We headed into last season’s Premier League as 6/1 outsiders for the title with Manchester City and Manchester United the bookmakers’ favourites.
A 10th place finish in 2015-16, strong rumours that Eden Hazard was on his way out of the club and a manager with no Premier League experience was in charge of the club.
Late winners versus both West Ham and Watford started our season before a convincing 3-0 thrashing of Burnley took us into the international break with a maximum nine points.
Then it began to unravel – held 2-2 in a poor showing at Swansea City, and then beaten 2-1 at home by Liverpool on a Friday before a humiliating 3-0 loss at Arsenal.
However, our loss at the Emirates proved to be the turning point. Manager Antonio Conte switched to a 3-4-3 formation for the second half and we kept the scoreline as it was at half-time.
Sticking with that formation; a back three of César Azpilicueta, recently re-signed David Luiz and Gary Cahill, we began our joint-Premier League record 13-game winning streak up until the New Year; top of the Premier League.
Conte proved to be a mastermind as we’d go on to win the Premier League at ease, playing with a 3-4-3 formation for the remainder of the season.
Regardless of us not playing European football made no difference – the Italian boss formed a team and tactic that was superior than the rest of the division. End of argument.
By the end of the season other teams had adapted to a back three and not just in the Premier League. Perhaps most notable of all were Arsenal who used that formation to beat us in the FA Cup final and then take us to penalties in the Community Shield. Arsene Wenger learning from the younger Conte.
Chelsea and the former-Juventus manager topped a number of categories last season – most points being the most important. But one category that many may have overlooked was the number of substitutions. We were the only club to make our full allocation of substitutes in every single Premier League game last season.
With the same starting XI for the majority of the season it could have been probable that our players would tire in the final stages.
However, Conte did give his players a break – in particularly those on the wings who worked up and down the pitch time and time again. Eden Hazard was wrapped in cotton wool as he was subbed off a league high 25 times last season. That was followed by teammates Victor Moses and Pedro (20 each).
Reading a number of Premier League betting tips, many are predicting Manchester City to win the 2017-18 Premier League title with Pep Guardiola’s having an abundance of talent in attack. And those same think that the Champions League will affect our fitness levels over the course of the season.
It will be interesting to see how Conte plays his cards this season. We don’t have a great deal of experience on the bench, particularly in the defensive areas, following the sale of holding midfielder Nemanja Matic.
Michy Batshuayi and Alvaro Morata give us two great options in attack so goals should not be a problem for us. The likes of N’Golo Kante and Willian seemingly never fatigue, whilst Antonio Rudiger gives us a fourth good centre-back to pick from.