Chelsea under Antonio Conte - Poised to challenge for the title?
After a bitterly disappointing 2015/16 season that saw Chelsea finish 10th in the Premier League...
After a bitterly disappointing 2015/16 season that saw Chelsea finish 10th in the Premier League and miss out on Champions League football for the first time in 13 seasons, the recently appointed Antonio Conte has changed the team dynamic has the team poised to make a Premier League title challenge.
Chelsea are currently second in the Premier League table after 11 games, having amassed 25 points courtesy of eight wins, one draw and two defeats. Up front, Chelsea have already scored 26 goals while their rock-solid defence has kept five consecutive clean sheets.
Online sports betting site Bovada prices Chelsea as +275 to finish the 2016/17 Premier League season on top of the pile, which would be there sixth top division title. Only Manchester City (+200) are priced shorter than Chelsea; Liverpool are also pegged at +275 .
The Blues, since switching to a 3-4-3 formation, have looked strong at the back and impressive going forward. There were question marks about the Blues’ backline at the start of the season, but the formation switch and addition of David Luiz from Paris St. Germain has shored things up.
Let’s not forget that Chelsea should welcome back Kurt Zouma in the coming weeks. The 22-year-old star is on course to return from a career-threatening cruciate ligament injury. The return of Zouma, if he can return to his pre-injury form, will further add to Chelsea’s depth. That’s a scary prospect for opposing Premier League teams.
The central midfield partnership of N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic is arguably the best in the Premier League, while Eden Hazard, who struggled for form last season, is back to his brilliant best and already has seven goals.
Victor Moses, who has come on leaps and bounds under the guidance of Conte, is enjoying his time on the right wing. When you think Chelsea have the likes of Willian, Cesc Fabregas and Oscar sat warming the bench, the +275 odds for Chelsea to win the league is a bet worth taking.
And then you have Diego Costa. Although Costa found the back of the net 12 times in 28 games during the 2015/16 campaign, rumours circulated all summer about him returning to his native Spain, apparently disillusioned with league officials’ continual harassment for his disciplinary record.
Oh, how things have changed. Conte has found a way to harness his striker’s explosive temperament. Costa has banged in nine goals in 11 games thus far. Costa, pegged at +300, is great value to win the Golden Boot this season. Jump on that bet as soon as you possibly can.
Chelsea supporters will hope Costa can stay fit. Who would lead the line if Costa suffers an injury? Summer signing Michy Batshuayi hasn’t exactly hit the ground running, only scoring once from his limited eight appearances, while Pedro isn’t an out-and-out striker.
But let’s focus on the positives.
Having crashed out of the EFL Cup in the Round of 16 at the hands of West Ham United, Chelsea only have the Premier League and FA Cup to concentrate on.
With no midweek games in Europe this season, the Chelsea squad will be more rested than all other contenders, including Arsenal, Manchester City, and Tottenham Hotspur.
Speaking of the FA Cup, it is a competition that Chelsea have enjoyed success in. The Blues have won the FA Cup seven times and have reached the quarter-finals 11 times in the past 14 seasons. While the Premier League clubs are yet to enter the FA Cup, several bookmakers price Chelsea as +600 favourites to lift the world-famous trophy.
This is a great bet to make. And we recommend making it before their FA Cup campaign begins. Conte is determined to win some silverware during his first season and can afford to consistently field full-strength teams in both the FA Cup and Premier League.
So the question on everyone’s mind is whether Chelsea can win the Premier League? The answer is yes. Chelsea have a difficult start to 2017 when they play Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City, Liverpool and Arsenal in the space of a month. If they can come through that period relatively unscathed, and if opposing teams can’t figure out how to combat Chelsea’s three-at-the-back formation, we will probably see Chelsea lifting the Premier League trophy in May.
What a start to Conte’s managerial career in England that would be.