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Chelsea Season Review
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Chelsea Season Review

Chelsea took a while to get going last season, it is easy to forget that the papers were full of talk of Conte being sacked after 6 games! Once he made a change in formation to introduce his new players, they were absolutely relentless in winning game after game to top the league and build themselves a nice buffer. All this done despite having the likes of Victor Moses, who had struggled everywhere he had been on loan, as a regular in the first team.

With no European football to distract them, Chelsea were able to focus on the Premier League until they had created enough of a lead to take the trophy. The one dark spot in the season was the FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal where they looked uncharacteristically sluggish and weak. Overall they were convincing and well deserved champions.


Antonio Conte

After a slow start, Conte never allowed his players to let up and they were relentless as they ground down opponent after opponent to take victory after victory. Even when star striker Diego Costa started causing problems, his man-management skills saw him contain the issue until the season finished, though it was clear Costa was not playing as well. The key to it all was Conte's skill at motivating his team, even when they had built up a big lead in the Premier League, Conte kept his players on their toes.

Yes there was a fair bit of luck involved, luck to avoid major injuries, he was lucky to inherit a team that had been good enough to win the league just the season before Leicester City did so and only in need of revitalising the players to be in a position to challenge for the league. There were even moments in games that you can point to, such as Sergio Aguero missing an open goal from just a couple of yards out for Manchester City. However every team has those moments of luck when it wins things because they are good enough to capitalise on it.

Conte was the main difference, he brought most of the disaffected players back into the fold, made Chelsea once more a team of 11 players working together. He also dealt brilliantly with the John Terry situation, which could have been a major problem all season if he had got it wrong.

Marks out of 10: 9


Thibaut Courtois

Courtois, silly as it seems to say, has been somewhat of a disappointment since returning to Chelsea from his loan spell with Atletico Madrid. It is not that he has been poor by any means, it is just that he set the bar so high in Madrid that it had seemed like he would be in the argument to be the standout best keeper in the world at this point in his career. Instead he is a step down from that level, which still puts him in the argument for the best in the Prem.

To be honest, I do not even know why I mentioned that above as Courtois had a good season, as you would expect from a keeper in the league winning team. At just 25, he is still young for a keeper, so I am just being harsh and nitpicking, as there is going to be so little to be critical about in this particular review.

Marks out of 10: 7.5


Asmir Begovic

It takes a special mindset to be a back up keeper, knowing how little gametime you will get and sitting on the bench only to be called upon in an emergency. It is no surprise Begovic decided it was not for him after this season and moved on, after he had been the cup keeper until the 6th Round of the FA Cup, when he was dropped to the bench. While he did make 2 appearances in the Premier League, it was not a particularly outstanding season for him, as he looked rusty when he did play.

Marks out of 10: 5


David Luiz

Having left Chelsea a few seasons ago to play for PSG, Luiz clearly had fond memories of his time in London as he was looking for a return. About as perfect a defender for a back 3 as there is, Luiz does make the odd error, though he is not as error prone as the media likes to portray, but his abilities make up for his deficiencies many times over. Luiz is quick and strong with an ability on the ball very few players can match. He has good vision and the range of passing to pick out a forward even from such a deep position.

One of his key strengths is that he can play on either side of the defence, allowing him to fill in as left sided centre back or right sided centre back when one is pulled out of position to cover in behind the wingbacks. That is a vital ability when you are playing with a back 3, to not be afraid to move out there and cover the gap, rather than holding station central of the three and looking for a midfielder to drop in, or dithering that split second longer than necessary because it is on his weak side.

Marks out of 10: 8


Kurt Zouma

The big French centre back spent the first part of the season recovering from an ACL injury and the second half working his way back to full fitness and mobility. However he still managed to get 13 appearances, 6 of them starts, over the course of the second half of the season. Unfortunately he was still trying to rebuild his confidence in his body and it did show, with an ACL injury being a difficult one to rehab the mind from, more so than the body itself. Last season was just a bit too early for him to return to his best. It is almost miraculous that he was able to play at such a high level without costing the team, quite so soon.

Marks out of 10: 5


Gary Cahill

A wholehearted defender who puts his head in where it hurts, defensively and to score the odd goal. He can be caught out defensively, due to a lack of pace and lapses in positioning, but his contribution is about his desire and that wholeheartedness, a willingness to put his body on the line for the team. Cahill's ability may mean he is the weakest link in terms of the quality of his play, but that desire and heart are priceless.

Marks out of 10: 7.5


Branislav Ivanovic

The big defender had held onto his place at right back when Conte initially arrived, but the change to a back 3 saw him dropped from the team and he found himself on the fringes as an option from the bench. That led to him leaving for Zenit St Petersburg in the January window.

Marks out of 10: 1.5


Nathan Ake

After receiving a January recall from his loan at Bournemouth, Ake will probably be unhappy at getting so little gametime on his return. Just 3 starts in the FA Cup, 1 in the Premier League and one short substitute appearance in the league were all he had to show for the the second half of the season.

Marks out of 10: 2


John Terry

Last season was a season too far for Terry, who had been a fantastic player and leader for the Blues, but found himself watching on from the sidelines for almost all of the season. At least he did not do anything embarrassing, such as arrange his own tribute for his final game for Chelsea. It would have been very cringeworthy if he had done something like, say, arranged for the ball to be booted out of play so he could be substituted in the 26th minute to receive an ovation from the crowd.

Marks out of 10: 1


Marcos Alonso

After arriving on a late move from Fiorentina, he was the player that allowed Conte to switch to a back 3, as his play at left wing back was a revelation. While not always quick enough to get back, going forward he was outstanding and provided key goals at crucial times to keep the Chelsea juggernaut on track for the title. Without him the team looked completely unbalanced and a shadow of the side it was with him.

Marks out of 10: 9


Kenedy

After an unsuccessful and difficult loan spell with Watford, Kenedy returned to the club in January but only made two starts, one in the Premier League and one in the FA Cup.

Marks out of 10: 1


Cesar Azpilicueta

Azpilicueta has been a fantastic servant for Chelsea, a right back who has spent most of his time playing at left back and now has been shifted to play the right sided centre half of 3, and has always performed to a consistently high standard. Always more defensively minded than most modern day fullbacks, playing in a back 3 suits him and the way Chelsea play. With the use of a very attacking right wing back ahead of him, a defender who is happy to play in the fullback area behind him is very important to cover the spaces. In 'Dave', as he is affectionately known by the Chelsea fans, Chelsea have one of the better defenders in world football.

Marks out of 10: 8


Ola Aina

Two starts in the EFL Cup, three very short sub appearances in the Premier League and one half hour sub run out in the FA Cup are all he contributed over the course of the season.

Marks out of 10: 2


Nemanja Matic

Last season Matic was part of probably the best midfield in the league, once Conte had figured out how to use him and Kante together. However, despite this, Matic was not at his best at all during the season. At his best Matic is a powerhouse who can dominate a midfield, but last season he looked sluggish and struggled to really impose himself on games in the way he did when he first returned to Chelsea.

Marks out of 10: 6.5


N'Golo Kante

In two seasons in English football, the diminutive Frenchman has won the league title twice! That says a lot about his ability, which is truly outstanding. In my opinion Kante is the definition of world class, as there is not a team in the world he could not walk into the midfield of and improve it. Already the best at what he does, Kante showed improvement in the weaker areas of his game as the season went on. His signing was the most important of the summer transfer window.

Marks out of 10: 9.5


Nathaniel Chalobah

The youngster managed to get intermittent substitute appearances in the league, as well as some starts in the cup, never looking out of place.

Marks out of 10: 4


Cesc Fabregas

Very much in and out of the team last season, though he did make a large contribution to the title win. At times his lack of mobility was a real issue, at other times not so much of a problem. When he did get time and space, and was not being forced to chase back, he could use his excellent range of passing to create for the team.

Marks out of 10: 5.5


Ruben Loftus-Cheek

He was very much on the fringes of things, with just a handful of substitute appearances in the Premier League. He was much more involved in the cup, with 4 starts in the early rounds. However he was not involved in the later rounds, not even making the squad.

Marks out of 10: 2


Oscar

The writing seemed to be on the wall for the little Brazilian as soon as Conte changed the system to a back 3. He found himself relegated to the bench, then out of the squad altogether, before moving to Shanghai SIPG in January.

Marks out of 10: 1


Eden Hazard

That was more like the Eden Hazard we have grown to expect, pace, skill, goals and creativity. 17 goals is a great return and he contributed greatly to Chelsea's ability to win games and the league. It is no coincidence that he has a good season and Chelsea win the league again.

Marks out of 10: 8


Willian

Willian is one of those players that fans love for his hard work and never say die attitude but find extremely frustrating as his end product so often lets him down. It is for those two aspects that he found himself in and out of the starting line up but a very regular player, making 41 appearances in total, though many were as a sub. Willian's pace, workrate and technique, especially on a dead ball, should see him as a first choice player, but his inability to really get anything like the most out of his talent is why he is not quite there.

Marks out of 10: 6.5


Pedro

The Spanish forward has managed to push Willian out of the team, though he is a very similar player, with pace, ability and workrate but that tendency to make a mess of his end product. At least when that end product is a cross or pass, when it comes to finishing he is usually very good in and around the box. However his end product is a step up from Willian, as well as that better finishing, so it is little wonder he has moved ahead in the pecking order.

Marks out of 10: 7.5


Victor Moses

It is amazing the difference a season can make. Before last season, Moses was a flop who had struggled to make a mark for himself in numerous loan spells for various clubs. Given a chance at right wing back by Conte as the system was changed and he repaid the faith paid in him in spades. Moses was not perfect by any means, defensively he was extremely suspect, going forward his end product was spotty, but he worked incredibly hard and did as well as can be expected.

Marks out of 10: 7.5


Diego Costa

In the first half of the season Costa was sensational, simply brilliant, scoring bagfulls of goals and causing merry hell for every opposition team that Chelsea faced. If he had continued in that vein all season, he would have been getting a 9.5 as a rating. The problem is that he decided he wanted to go back to Atletico Madrid in January and became as much of a nuisance to his own team and the officials as he had been to opposition. Back came the old argumentative, disruptive Costa, who was too busy trying to pick fights to play football.

Marks out of 10: 6


Michy Batshuayi

Batshuayi arrived from Marseille in the summer with a reputation for being an impact sub for a large fee. Well large by last summer's standards anyway. The Belgian forward lived up to his reputation, despite looking clumsy and cumbersome at times on the ball, he made an impact as a sub and added a handful of key goals at vital moments.

Marks out of 10: 6.5

Written by Tris Burke


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