Chelsea emerge as serious title contenders




The opening few months of the 2016/2017 Premier League season has certainly lived up to the billing, with plenty of fireworks going off at both ends of the table. Pre-season predictions that the big clubs would reassert their dominance after Leicester City took everyone by surprise to lift the title in one of the greatest shocks in football history have come true, with the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal proving their title credentials during the early stages.

Chelsea Manager Antonio Conte

Chelsea Manager Antonio Conte

However, Chelsea have risen to the top under Antonio Conte who has created a team that appears unstoppable at present, with eight straight victories putting them three points clear of the chasing pack. What makes their superb run of form all the more impressive is the fact that they have swept both Manchester clubs, along with the likes of Tottenham, Everton and Leicester, aside with minimal fuss as Conte has made a big impact at Stamford Bridge. The former Juventus and Italy national team manager has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water, with his disciplined and regiment approach helping to get the very best out of a team who flattered to deceive last season and endured a campaign to forget. Betway certainly believe they are now the team to beat after installing Chelsea as title favourites in the latest football odds, but although there is still a long way to go in the Premier League season, it is hard to see anyone stopping Chelsea if they continue in the same vein.

The recent 3-1 victory at Manchester City not only saw Conte get one over on Pep Guardiola in the first ever meeting between the two managers, but also illustrated just how good Chelsea have been this season. They showed superb character and quality to come from a goal behind to overpower a team that were considered strong favourites with Betway to walk away with the title before a ball had even been kicked. Conte certainly deserves huge credit for the way in which he has turned the club’s fortunes around; he allowed the players to show what they can do in the opening weeks of the season instead of making wholesale changes straight away, but after consecutive defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal which bared the hallmarks of everything that was wrong about Chelsea last season, Conte set about making the improvements that have made the team strong in every area. They have been a joy to watch, with twenty-two goals scored and just three conceded further proof that Conte has got Chelsea firing on all cylinders.

Reverting to a wing-back system has proved to be a masterstroke, with Victor Moses continuing to excel as a transformed player who has become a key part of Conte’s plans. The same could be said of Eden Hazard and Diego Costa who are making amends for a series of poor performances last season by showing the quality that continues to win games for their team. The latter is currently joint-top of the Premier League scoring charts alongside Alexis Sanchez with eleven goals as Conte continues to get the best out of striker who appears to have gained control over his fiery temperament, but the team as a whole continues to click.

N’Golo Kante has proved to be a fantastic signing at the heart of midfield alongside Nemanja Matic, while David Luiz has proved critics wrong by looking assured alongside Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta at the back. Add in a series of excellent performances from Hazard and Pedro, and what you have is a Chelsea team that is fully equipped to reclaim the Premier League crown that Leicester took from them last season.

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