Flying Under The Radar Could Suit Conte’s Chelsea!


Antonio Conte’s arrival at Chelsea has been somewhat overshadowed by managerial heavyweights Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola taking up the reigns at the two Manchester clubs.

Those two sides along with Arsenal are the three favourites with the bookmakers to take the Premier League crown come the twenty-first of May next year. Chelsea are fourth in line as far as the main bookies are concerned.

But the London side could be happy that not many pundits and punters are fancying them at this early stage.

Conte will be happy to go under the radar and change things around for Chelsea before concentrating on anything like title talk.

There hasn’t been a squad overhaul as many had predicted at the end of last season. They may have finished in tenth spot last term and missed out on European qualification but it’s quite clear that the current Chelsea squad are still strong and last season was probably more of a blip than being the new norm.

Let’s not forget that many of this squad captured the Premier League trophy back in 2015. Last season was more about disillusionment and discontent with life under Mourinho than suddenly not being good enough to compete or challenge at the very top.

Former player of the year Eden Hazard has a lot to prove this year. The exciting forward had a miserable time of it in 2015-16 but he ended the campaign strongly and he needs that form to continue this term. One of Antonio’s first tasks as Chelsea manager was to convince the Belgian maestro to stay and become the main man again at the Bridge!

Thibaut Courtois, Diego Costa, Oscar and Nemanja Matić also underperformed last season but all have the qualities to influence the biggest of games and swing them in Chelsea’s favour if they are on top form.

Conte has come in and he’s brought with him a gruelling fitness regime that should have his stars playing at their peak within a few weeks of the season starting. The players will already know that the Italian is the boss and that he isn’t a gaffer that will accept anything less than 100%.

The former Juventus and Azzurri manager is a proven winner with a strong track record of success.

He has brought in the dominant N’Golo Kante, the holding midfielder who helped Leicester City to their first ever top flight triumph last season. Throughout that campaign for the Foxes, Kante would often be one of their main players who would make key interceptions, make numerous vital tackles and pass the ball on to the flair players. Antonio Conte loves nothing more than footballers who can become warriors on the pitch and be extremely disciplined. In that regard Kante fits the bill perfectly.

Young Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi has joined from Olympique Marseille. The twenty-two year old bagged seventeen goals in Ligue 1 last year. His raw ability and scoring prowess has had some Chelsea supporters already comparing him to former goalscoring hero Didier Drogba. Whether or not he’s ready to lead the line on a regular basis at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League remains to be seen. He could be seen as the ideal super-sub, especially if Chelsea’s moneymen can persuade Everton to sell Romelu Lukaku back to the club.

I’d imagine that Chelsea will also be looking to bolster their central defensive options with Kurt Zouma still out injured. As we know club captain John Terry isn’t getting any younger, while question marks still surround Gary Cahill and his ability being of the standard that you’d expect from a really top centre-back.

Colombian winger Juan Cuadrado has returned from his loan spell at Juve. For anyone who has watched the twenty-eight year old in Serie A or playing for his national side they will have undoubtedly noticed that he can be a game changer and create numerous chances for his teammates. If he can get up to speed with English football and settle into this Chelsea side, then he could become another key squad player for Conte (a known keen admirer of Cuadrado).

The Italian manager will no doubt have his defence well disciplined and playing like a strong unit again. He will also protect them with the likes of foot-soldiers Matic and Kante playing just in front of them to win the ball back as soon as possible.

Not many teams in the league have quite as many strong creative talents as the Blues. If those attackers can all work to their full potential then they can create and score plenty of goals in this upcoming season.

It will be vital for Antonio Conte to get his full squad believing in themselves again and go on a winning run that can put pressure on other possible title challengers. Last year they were disconnected and lacked passion, Conte won’t stand for that under his regime.

They have another bonus in the fact that they will not have the distraction of the Champions League, or any European football for that matter. That should see them being one of the fresher sides in the English top flight and all efforts will be fixed on bringing the league title back to Stamford Bridge.

As everyone looks to Manchester for the eventual Premier League champions of the 2016/17 season, Antonio Conte will be drilling his troops day in and day out with the objective to upset the odds and be the ghosts that take top spot.

So don’t count them out!

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