Chelsea FC secured their 6th Premier League title after nicking a 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns, all thanks to Batshuayi’s 82nd-minute winner. Antonio Conte becomes only the fourth manager in the history to win the Premier League title in his first season, after Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Manuel Pellegrini.
The Blues capitalised on Tottenham’s loss to West Ham last week when they thrashed Middlesbrough 3-0 and making sure that a win here at West Brom would seal the deal for them. This win now means Chelsea can also finish the season with a huge 10-point lead over 2nd placed Spurs with 2 games to go. It was a deserving trophy for the Blues as they were the best and most consistent team in the country by a mile.
We take a look at 4 key factors that shaped the title this season for Chelsea after a dreadful season last year:
Adaptive tactics from Conte
Apart from the addition of N’golo Kante, this is virtually the same squad that Jose Mourinho handled in his stumble with Chelsea last season. And it wasn’t an easy ride for Antonio Conte as well but his versatile character of tweaking his system a lot before finally getting a balanced side paid off. Even though Chelsea enjoyed a decent start to the league but it wasn’t until the 3-0 reprimanding defeat at the hands of London rivals Arsenal, that Conte realized his best formation in 3-4-2-1. Conte’s shift in tactics were responsible for Chelsea’s surge to the top of the table. The Blues registered 13 wins on the bounce after the change in formation, including wins against the top guns including both the Manchester clubs and fellow title rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
Players performing way above their expectations
At the start of the season, it was almost impossible to imagine players like Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso will be influential in Chelsea’s system, let alone important in their title charge. But this has been the key for Chelsea in this season. Conte has brought the best out of his players including former Barcelona winger Pedro whose career at Chelsea seemed to have been all but over.
It was because of Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses versatile playing nature that Conte’s tactic switch was a success. Both the players exceeded the expectations for the wing back roles assigned to them, proving to be a threat offensively and solid at the back. In an era where big clubs lure glamorous players, players like Alonso and Moses will always find their place in the side under scrutiny. But both of them have fought hard to earn their place in the side and have taken their performances to another level.
Strength and depth in the squad
Conte’s men didn’t have a lot of games to play for other than the league games and hence had minimal injuries, but whenever a calamity hit them the depth in the squad was enough to nullify it and carry on like nothing happened. With players like Fabregas, Willian and Batshuayi on the bench, all game changers, Chelsea boasted a fully balanced squad this season. When N’golo Kante was supposed to miss out in the Middlesbrough game due to a knock, Fabregas replaced him and Chelsea continued as smoothly as before. To have a player of Fabregas’ pedigree on the bench sums up Chelsea’s strength in the squad and it seems like they wouldn’t lie down when European football comes into play next season.
Ability to grind out wins
The slender 1-0 win at the Hawthorns against West Bromwich Albion simply summarised Chelsea’s season. West Brom are a very organised team and have stolen points from the top six at times this season. They did deliver a resilient performance in this fixture as well but it was Chelsea who got the job done. And that’s what they did frequently this season.
Where Spurs, Liverpool, City, United and Arsenal have proved to be awfully inconsistent this season, Chelsea have been the exact opposite. They have made sure that they capitalised on their rivals dropping points and have kept winning. The Blues haven’t dropped points in two successive matches this season and simply put, they fully deserve the Premier League title 2016/17.