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Chelsea: 2017/18 Premier League Season Preview



After an extremely impressive Premier League title triumph last season the onus is most definitely now on the shoulders of boss Antonio Conte to ensure his side can replicate that success in 2018.

The Blues were rampant on their way to their first title in two seasons, narrowly missing out on the Double after losing to Arsenal in the FA Cup final, and they will no doubt be hoping for more of the same.

The return of Champions League football to Stamford Bridge will also set the juices flowing ahead of the new campaign and it’s fair to say that Chelsea will be striving to win silverware on all four fronts.

How has their summer been so far?

It perhaps hasn’t quite been the seamless post-title triumph summer that Chelsea supporters would have wanted, with troublesome forward Diego Costa immediately producing drama down at Stamford Bridge after allegedly being told – via text – by Antonio Conte that he’s no longer required.

Thus ensued a long and drawn-out ‘will he, won’t he’ saga with former striker Romelu Lukaku as Conte looked for a replacement – who eventually snubbed his old club to join rivals Manchester United – before they secured a club record £60 million signing of Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid.

Monaco’s talented midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko and Roma’s versatile defender Antonio Rudiger have also arrived in London this summer as Conte looks to build a squad capable of challenging for both the Premier League and Champions League, with Willy Caballero also joined as a number two goalkeeper.

An awful lot has been said about the numbers of exits from Stamford Bridge this summer though, with academy players Nathan Ake and Nathaniel Chalobah both allowed to leave for Premier League rivals, Kurt Zouma sent out to Stoke City and influential midfield powerhouse Nemanja Matic sold to rivals United.

This, combined with numerous young players sent out on-loan again, leaves Chelsea’s squad appearing a little threadbare as the new season approaches and they need more arrivals before the window closes.

And this lack of personnel has perhaps shown during their pre-season preparations, winning just once in a friendly against Arsenal before losing to Bayern Munich and Inter Milan during their tour of Asia, whilst the season-opening Community Shield ended in penalty shoot-out misery against the Gunners on Sunday.

Manager: Antonio Conte

After coming across as a tactical mastermind during his debut Premier League season it has been tough going for Antonio Conte this summer, finding it hard to secure deals for his primary targets.

There were even rumours, as reported by the Daily Mail, circulating at the start of the summer of him facing the sack – rumours which proved futile after he signed new terms on his current two-year contract at the club – and it just seems like Conte is waiting for the season to begin so his side’s football can do the talking.

But in spite of this, the Italian almost single-handedly began the three-man defence revolution in England last season – a formation now utilised by a number of fellow top-flight sides – and once his new signings settle in it’s no doubt that he’ll make Chelsea a force to be reckoned with once again.

How could the Blues line-up this season?

With very few additions made at Stamford Bridge so far this summer, and with a vast number of squad players leaving for new clubs, Chelsea’s starting eleven almost writes itself at the moment.

The impregnable Thibaut Courtois will lead the line, with it expected that a back three of Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill and David Luiz will continue like last season – with new boy Antonio Rudiger not ready for first-team action yet – and that Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses will be wing-backs.

N’Golo Kante will take up his usual position protecting the defence and, although Cesc Fabregas is likely to start the season alongside him, it won’t be long until Monaco’s young prospect Tiemoue Bakayoko returns from his time on the side-lines and starts to make the defensive midfield position his own.

Eden Hazard and Pedro – both so influential in Chelsea’s title triumph – will resume their normal roles whilst new £60million record signing Alvaro Morata will eventually line-up as the lone striker once ready.

Who are Chelsea’s best fantasy football options?

Despite struggling on his brief competitive debut in the Community Shield, there’s little doubt that Alvaro Morata will settle in and be a regular scorer of points with his natural ability to find the net in his career.

Yet he’s likely to cost the big bucks, and if you’re looking for a slightly more economical pick then selecting either wing-back, Victor Moses or Marcos Alonso, could turn out to be a very smart coup.

Last season alone Alonso scored six goals and managed three assists, which is a pretty incredible return for a defender, whilst Moses scored three and earnt two assists courtesy of his lung-busting surges down the right-flank. Consider that they will regularly earn clean sheet points too and it is almost a no-brainer.

Fancy a new challenge this season? Sign up to Draft Fantasy Football and prove your knowledge of the Premier League!

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Premier League Verdict

With Chelsea’s squad dwindling in numbers it’s clear that they need to sign more players before August 31, with strength in depth required to challenge for both the Premier League and the Champions League.

But the key thing is that the core of the title-winning squad remains – and most importantly so does manager Antonio Conte – so Chelsea will have the momentum of last season behind them ahead of 2017-18.

It certainly won’t be easy to retain their title, with fellow top-six sides making waves in the transfer market to date, but expect Conte’s men to be in and around the top three at the end of the campaign.

Will is a Multimedia Journalism graduate from the University of Salford, specialising in the art of sports. Long-time suffering Northampton Town fan who once saw us win a league title. Find him on Twitter - @96PearsonW.


Are Chelsea finally going to see the best of Alvaro Morata?

The Spanish international has been inconsistent since his £60 million move.



Photo: Getty Images

When Antonio Conte sealed the signing of Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid in the summer, many Chelsea fans lauded him as one of the signings of the window.

He was an instant hit at Stamford Bridge following his £60 million arrival, scoring on his debut off the bench in a 3-2 loss against Burnley on the opening day.

Morata has been most commonly used as an impact sub especially at Madrid, but at Chelsea, he was quickly given the responsibility of spearheading the Blues’ attack.

He repaid the faith Conte showed in him early, notching a hat trick away at Stoke in mid-September.

There was early talk of him being involved in a four-way battle for the golden boot alongside Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku and Gabriel Jesus.

Since then, it hasn’t worked out as well for Morata at Chelsea.

He went on a scoring drought soon after, although he did score a crucial winner against title rivals Manchester United in November.

He still received criticism, however, culminating in a poor performance against Arsenal in the Carabao Cup, where he missed several guilt edge chances to give Chelsea the advantage.

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

He then played 40 minutes in the FA Cup against Norwich, managing to receive two yellow cards in a matter of seconds, first for diving, and then for dissent.

The cold weather has been blamed for his lack of form, as well as a back injury which at one point Conte suggested could force him to miss the rest of the season.

The English climate is different to what Morata will have previously experienced in Spain and in Italy with Juventus, although whether that can be used as a real argument is debatable.

He proved that theory wrong today, finishing off a fine Chelsea move in one of the coldest games of the season.

The Spaniard has looked bereft of confidence in recent weeks and months, and it appeared that Olivier Giroud had overtaken him as Chelsea’s leading marksman until today.

Morata proved his class against a Leicester side that, had it not been for a late mistake, would have taken the current Premier League champions to penalties.

His well placed shot after an excellent Willian through ball opening the scoring before an audacious flick hit the crossbar.

Although not at the heights of the likes of Kane (24 goals) and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (28 goals), Morata has notched 10 goals of his own – a decent return considering he has missed a fair amount of games with injury in a team that is equally reliant on goals from wingers Eden Hazard, Pedro and Willian.

With the cold weather subsiding, if that can be used as an excuse for some of Morata’s poor performances, and Chelsea’s chances of silverware increasing with an FA Cup semi-final, now is surely the time for Morata to produce some of his best form and lead Chelsea’s charge going into the back end of the season.

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Tieumoue Bakayoko disappoints again for Chelsea against Leicester City

The Frenchman looked to struggle against his FA Cup opponents.

Jake Jackman



Photo: Getty Images

Tieumoue Bakayoko was one of the big-name signings for Chelsea during the summer as the club tried to push on under Antonio Conte after their Premier League triumph.

The Frenchman had been a standout player for AS Monaco during their surprise Ligue 1 winning campaign and cost the Blues a reported £40 million.

Although they are one of the richest clubs in the world, that remains a big spend and they would have been expecting a first-team ready player.

That hasn’t been the case as Bakayoko has struggled to adapt to English football and has found himself sidelined for Danny Drinkwater on several occasions.

The England international is an experienced Premier League player, but he was brought in to provide cover. It is a worry that he has been performing better than the player brought in to partner N’Golo Kante.

(Photo by Adrian Dennis/Getty Images)

Chelsea managed to qualify for the semi-final of the FA Cup with an extra-time victory over Leicester City. However, Bakayoko was underwhelming once again after being brought back into the starting eleven.

He lasted until half-time before being replaced by Cesc Fabregas. During the first half, the Blues were too predictable in central midfield as neither player offered creativity from deep.

Wilfred Ndidi was arguably the best player in that area of the pitch as he dominated Bakayoko and Kante for the first-half.

The summer signing from Monaco was booked just before the break and didn’t re-emerge for the second-half. It was another disappointing performance from him as he failed to take the opportunity provided by Antonio Conte.

During the match, Bakayoko had a tackle success rate of 33% and he failed to make a single key pass to influence proceedings in the attacking half.

It was obvious that he was lacking in confidence as he often chose the simple pass and wasn’t as aggressive as the Leicester midfield players that he was competing with.

As the season has progressed, central midfield has emerged as an area of weakness for Chelsea. They often play with two defensive-minded midfielders and that makes them predictable to play against.

(Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Last season, Nemanja Matic was more dynamic in central areas and he wasn’t afraid to step into the attacking half to contribute to attacks. The decision to sell him to a rival club now looks a huge mistake as the Blues are less effective in the middle of the park.

It was hoped that Ross Barkley would provide more energy to that position, but he has struggled with injuries since moving to Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have a difficult task to save their season, as they must finish in the top four and lift the FA Cup to restore pride.

Bakayoko needs to have a strong end to his season if he is to prove himself worthy of another chance next season. There is likely to be a new manager at Stamford Bridge with Antonio Conte’s position looking more untenable by the day.

A managerial change will lead to a squad overhaul and the 23-year-old will be one of the first to go. He doesn’t offer anything different to Kante and his compatriot is far superior in every area.

His most ardent supporters will allude to his inexperience and suggest that he needs to be given more time. However, when watching him against the 21-year-old Ndidi, it became clear that he isn’t good enough for a club like Chelsea. He was outclassed and outbattled by his younger opponent.

Since Roman Abramovich bought the club, there have been several mistakes made in the transfer market. The decision to sell Matic and sign Bakayoko was another.

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Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea: Three talking points from the Etihad

Jake Jackman



Manchester City
Photo: Getty Images

Manchester City managed to beat Chelsea for the second time this season as they continue their march to the Premier League title. The contest was far from entertaining, as the visitors showed no interest in playing football and instead to soak in pressure.

Pep Guardiola’s team didn’t have to get out of second gear and it was a more comfortable victory than they would have been expecting. The Citizens are now 18 points clear at the top of the table and remain on target for 100 points, which would be a superb achievement.

Meanwhile, Chelsea sit outside of the Champions League places and are now five points behind Tottenham in fourth position. They will need a near perfect end to the season if they are to avoid missing out on qualification for next season’s competition. Here are three talking points from the Etihad Stadium…

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

David Silva showed his class

The 32-year-old has been at Manchester City for the majority of their journey from Premier League also-rans to elite super club and he remains a crucial player for them under Pep Guardiola.

If he had been in the team for the entire campaign, he would be running Kevin de Bruyne close for the PFA Player of the Year award. He is a classy operator who seems to get better with age.

He got the important assist for the winning goal with a superb piece of play and that is becoming par for the course for the Spanish international. Silva completed 95% of his passes and made three key passes during the contest. Meanwhile, he was very good out of possession as he made three ball recoveries.

It has been incredible to watch Pep Guardiola get all of his attacking talent on the pitch at one time, but the improvement of both Silva and De Bruyne off the ball has helped achieve that.

They are now complete midfielders and capable of thriving in both halves of the pitch. The midfielder is a club legend and supporters will be hoping that he has a few years left in him.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Antonio Conte continues to make puzzling decisions

Last season, the Italian was lauded every week as his side won the league title comfortably, but he has failed to follow it up with a good second campaign. There have been a lot of problems for Chelsea this season including recruitment, tactics and player performance.

They have been reliant on Eden Hazard and as the campaign has progressed, the team have lost their intensity, which suggests they no longer believe in Conte.


Their 3-4-2-1 formation was revolutionary, but they have moved away from it frequently this season and haven’t been able to settle on a first eleven. That was one of Chelsea’s strengths last season. Gary Cahill and David Luiz have been sidelined, while Alvaro Morata has failed to replace Diego Costa sufficiently.

On Sunday, Conte chose to field Hazard as a lone frontman, but he struggled to impact the game in that role. He is best when having space in front of him to run into and he didn’t have that against Manchester City.

The Belgian international was isolated and touched the ball only 31 times. It was a tactical error and one that blunted Chelsea’s attack before a ball was kicked.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Ilkay Gundogan is flourishing in the middle of the park for Manchester City

The former Borussia Dortmund midfielder has had his problems since arriving in the Premier League.

He has suffered a few injuries and that has seen him struggle to secure a regular starting berth, but he has featured prominently in recent weeks and is perfect for the system. Gundogen recycles possession effectively and that is required, especially when the opposition team sits deep.


Gundogen touched the ball more than any other player on the pitch with 181 touches and was very good at distributing the ball quickly. He finished the match with a 96% pass success rate, which shows his role.

He wasn’t taking any risks and he didn’t have to. City have a lot of attacking talent and the German international isn’t required to try risky passes to influence the game.

Although Chelsea didn’t get on the ball much, Gundogen broke up the play when required with four ball recoveries. Fernandinho’s absence could allow the 27-year-old to secure the place on a permanent basis and he does offer more in the role, especially in possession. It was a strong performance and one of the standouts in a dull affair.

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