As much as Arsenal fans will claim they ruined it, Chelsea have had a very impressive season under Antonio Conte. It was statistically the second-best season by any team in the Premier League era, finishing just two points behind Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea in 2005, however they did achieve more wins, a record 30, than that side. The fact that Arsenal’s biggest achievements were two wins against Chelsea put into perspective how the clubs differ in terms of success.
Let’s not forget, after the 3-0 defeat to Arsenal back in September, Chelsea were ‘going to struggle to make the top 4’ and Antonio Conte was ‘on the verge of getting sacked.’ Then came the record-equaling run. Chelsea won 13 games in a row, using Conte’s 3-4-3 system. This incredible run included emphatic wins over Mourinho’s Manchester United and Everton, a hard-fought victory at home to Spurs and a thrilling triumph at the Etihad Stadium. During that win up in Manchester, former Chelsea playmaker Kevin De Bruyne missed an absolute sitter, a moment that probably would’ve completely changed Chelsea’s season as it would’ve meant City going 2-0 up and Conte rethinking his plans with 3 at the back.
By January, Chelsea had equaled Arsenal’s run of 13 wins in a row (when they were good), The Blues needing just one more win to surpass it, away to Spurs. Mauricio Pochettino masterminded a 2-0 win for Tottenham as Dele Alli headed 2 past Thibaut Courtois; a game in which Spurs exploited Chelsea’s weaknesses and people thought the Chelsea steam train would grind to a halt as other managers copied Pochettino’s approach.
As it turned out, the Spurs defeat was a mere blip, the next time Chelsea lost was at home to Crystal Palace where heroic performances from Mamadou Sakho and Wayne Hennessey denied a dominate performance. Chelsea bounced back immediately with a massive win at home to Manchester City, which ended their title hopes. After losing to his former club in the cup (all the referee’s fault obviously), Jose Mourinho decided to take revenge by man-marking Eden Hazard out the game at Old Trafford and stifling Chelsea in what was dubbed a ‘Mourinho masterclass’. Funnily enough, the referee wasn’t mentioned by Mourinho this time.
After not mustering a single shot on target at Old Trafford, Chelsea then went on to score 25 goals in their last 8 games of the season to secure their 5th Premier League title. Everton at Goodison Park was the final major hurdle for Chelsea to pass it seemed, Pedro merely strolled over this hurdle to hand Chelsea a 3-0 win at a stadium where Everton had not lost all season. Spurs pushed Chelsea all the way but Manuel Lanzini did everyone at Stamford Bridge a favour by scoring the winner as West Ham finally decided they liked their new stadium.
Michy Batshuayi scored a late winner to beat Tony Pulis’s West Brom at the Hawthorns, which is not an easy thing to do against 10 behind the ball, and won the title for Chelsea on not the most glamourous stage. The Blues returned as heroes and John Terry was seen-off as a club legend in a more than fitting way. The loss to Arsenal will only spur Chelsea on, even the image of Francis Coquelin spinning in the air would be enough to remind Chelsea fans of the good times again.