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Chelsea Season Preview: What To Expect In 2016-17

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If there is one thing that Chelsea FC and their supporters are ready and excited for, it is the start of a new season.

Last year’s tailspin of a title defence is firmly in the rearview mirror, as Italian manager Antonio Conte takes over the reins and will be looking to guide The Blues back towards the pinnacle of English football.

Jose Mourinho’s second stint as Chelsea manager ended in an abrupt manner, with owner Roman Abramovich and the Special One seeing their relationship strained yet again and ultimately parted ways in last December.

Familiar face Guus Hiddink was brought in to do some damage control, and he managed to steer Chelsea to a 10th place finish.

Antonio Conte brings a fresh attitude and a proven track record of his work in Italy to a team that is ready to return to the summit of both English and European football.

With a talented roster already in place and new players arriving via the transfer market, we take a look at what can be expected of Chelsea in the upcoming campaign.

Abramovic is well known for attributing big budgets to incoming managers in a bid to help them perform well.

Ahead of the 2016-17 season, Chelsea have already brought in forward Michy Batshuayi from Marseille (40 million Euros) and midfielder N’Golo Kante (a reported 38 million Euros) from Leicester City.

Both players are arriving in excellent form and should be able to contribute immediately to the squad. The extension of John Terry’s contract can be seen as an intelligent move in many intangible ways for both Conte and the club as a whole.

Keeping a club legend and strong leader like Terry around this group will most likely help to usher in Conte’s style with new and younger players alike.

Having Terry to assist in the development of young defenders like American Matt Miazga will hopefully set the team up for long-term defensive success.

And with over a month still left before the transfer window closes, it would be somewhat shocking if that was the end of Chelsea’s roster movement.

Perhaps the most exciting possible addition comes in the rumoured movement at the striker position.

Atletico Madrid is reported to be in contact currently with Chelsea about re-acquiring forward Diego Costa, who has found himself cast as the new Premier League villain during his time in England due to his aggressive antics and hot temper.

After an impressive 20-goal haul during Chelsea’s Premier League/League Cup double during his first season at Stamford Bridge in 2014-15, Costa saw his goals drop significantly in year two.

Despite playing in more matches, the Spanish international saw his goal tally drop to 12 last year. With Antonio Conte keen to bring in his former forward Alvaro Morata from his time with Juventus, Chelsea could soon see themselves with new attacking options at the top of their lineup this summer.

Antonio Conte found tremendous recent success as manager of Italian Serie A giants Juventus, capturing three consecutive league titles from 2011 to 2014.

After leaving the Bianconeri to take over the Italian national team, Conte again displayed his incredible ability to give his teams a tactical advantage over their opposition.

At this past summer’s Euro Championships, few expected Italy to be among the leading contenders for the tournament, as a squad in transition was picked by many to underachieve.

But Conte led the Azzurri to the top of their group and knocked out defending European champions Spain 2-0.

A hard-fought quarterfinal match against Germany ended their journey in a penalty shootout, but Italy and Conte were certainly able to leave France with their heads held high knowing they performed well on the global stage.

Conte’s success, ironically, as often been compared to Jose Mourinho, as an emphasis on defensive structure and tactics are at the forefront of his decision making.

At Juventus, a 3-5-2 formation was used throughout his time in charge, and positioning was always important to team success.

Perhaps no other league places a higher importance on defensive alignments and tactics than Italy’s Serie A, and Antonio Conte is an excellent example.

Conte will make many in-game adjustments and will change his formations if need be, as he has utilised both 5-3-2 and 4-4-2 lineups in the past as well.

He is almost certainly expected to use a back four at Chelsea, as a 3-man backline in the Premier League has been shown to produce disastrous results.

With the physicality and pace that Premier League teams bring week in and week out, Conte will want to ensure that star goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has the proper coverage in front of him during the season.

In this regard, the addition of Kante in the Chelsea midfield must make Antonio one happy manager.

Kante’s nonstop motor and incredible tackling ability will be a major part of the team’s success. He will be able to cover so much ground in the midfield and snuff out opposing attacks often on his own.

A presence like that will allow forwards and attacking midfielders like Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian space and freedom to play higher up the pitch.

If Morata is added to the squad, Conte will be able to use his size and positioning to make free kicks and set pieces even more deadly.

The pressures of a new manager are always great, especially for a club with the global reach of Chelsea FC.

Part of what seemed to doom the team’s past season was the feeling of players giving up on Mourinho and a general sense of complacency.

Supporters were quick to point out the lazy efforts of several of the squad’s better players, and this was an issue that Conte will definitely be ready to address.

He has shown a minuscule patience level for behaviour like what went on last season, and I believe his players will respond to his passion for the game and the desire to get this club back to where it should be.

Based on this stacked lineup brimming with talent, there is certainly no reason that a Premier League title can’t be this season’s goal.

Perhaps at the more attainable end of the spectrum, a return to Champions League qualification and an FA or League Cup title is a must for a fanbase expecting silverware every season.

Leicester City turned the league upside down last season, but Chelsea will likely be ready to be back towards the top again.

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