Antonio Conte was appointed by Chelsea FC in the summer of 2016 after it was announced in March that he would be stepping down from his role as Italy National Football Team manager and rumours had already started to spread that he would be taking over at Stamford Bridge in the summer. The West London club which had performed well below expectations in the 2015-2016 campaign, had then confirmed that Conte will step in when Guus Hiddink vacates his interim role at the end of the 2015-16 season.
In June, Chelsea submitted a total of three bids for Roma’s Radja Nainggolan, with the third reportedly valued at €40 million; the player ultimately decided to stay after receiving an improved contract from Roma the following month. Conte’s first signing during his tenure at Chelsea Fc was Michy Batshuayi for 40 million after the bid was accepted by Marseille. Chelsea’s 2nd signing was a good one buying one of the Premier League’s best central defensive midfielder valued at 30 million by Leicester City, Ngolo Kante signed a 5 year contract with Chelsea.
Conte started playing a 4-2-3-1 formation, deploying Kante and Matic in the midfield, a frontline of Oscar, Eden Hazard and Pedro and Diego Costa at the top. In August, Chelsea won all the games that they played in the premier league the first one being against West Ham, the first goal was scored by Eden Hazard and a late goal by Diego Costa helped Chelsea take the 3 points. On 27 August, in the 3–0 home victory over Burnley, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois kept the first clean sheet of the season and broke a run of 13 home Premier League games without a clean sheet, with his last being in a 1–0 win over Norwich City in November 2015.
Last Day Of Transfer Window
On the last day of the summer transfer window, Chelsea completed a total of thirteen transfers, with 11 loan deals and two additions. Marcos Alonso returned to the Premier League for a fee believed to be around £23 million from Fiorentina, signing a five-year contract. Chelsea’s last summer transfer deal was the £30 million signing of David Luiz, who returned to the London side from PSG after joining PSG from Chelsea in 2014.
Start Of A Bad Run
After the international break, Chelsea faced Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium in Wales on 11 September. The match ended in a 2–2 draw, with both of Chelsea’s goals coming from Diego Costa. The draw meant that it was the first game of the season in which Chelsea dropped points.On 16 September, Chelsea suffered their first defeat of the season at home, as Liverpool won 2–1 at Stamford Bridge. David Luiz made his second Chelsea debut following his deadline day move from PSG. Two Liverpool goals in the first half, from Dejan Lovren’s close range finish and Jordan Henderson’s thunderous 25-yard strike, put the game out of reach for the hosts, who managed to secure one goal back through Diego Costa.
The bad run of form continued with another league defeat, a 3–0 defeat against Arsenal at the Emirates. Alexis Sanchez pounced in the 11th minute after a horrific defensive error from Gary Cahill let him roam free on goal, followed three minutes later by another goal from Theo Walcott. Ozil then exposed Chelsea on the counter-attack five minutes before the break, putting the game beyond Chelsea’s reach and sending them further down the league table.
The Change That Transformed The Whole Course Of The Season
After the bad run of form it was believed that Chelsea for another season would not be able to finish in the top 4 after such a bad 2015-16 season. There were many questions being raised about Conte’s appointment after the blues being 8th in the league at the end of September and had gained only 10 points in 6 games.
Since the starting of Conte’s management he was known for using the 3-5-2 formation, in the premier league Conte brought 3-4-3 into play as the blues already had 3 wingers who had played very well. Chelsea played Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses as the wing backs and Kante and Matic in the pivot, with Kante being the powerhouse of the midfield.
On 1st October Chelsea won 2-0 against Hull City thanks to a goal apiece from Willian and Diego Costa. The new formation featured a back-three pairing of Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta, with two wing-backs providing cover on the wings.
On 23 October, Chelsea stunned Manchester United and former manager Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge with a thumping 4–0 win. Chelsea went into the lead within 30 seconds of the match, thanks to Spanish winger Pedro capitalizing on poor defending with a goal. Gary Cahill smashed in the second after United allowed Eden Hazard’s corner to bounce into their box. United offered little sign of making a comeback, falling further behind when Hazard drilled in a precise 15-yard strike. The game was well and truly over with a rare 70th-minute goal from N’Golo Kanté compounding Mourinho’s misery on his return to Stamford Bridge. With this win, Chelsea had gone eight league games, winning four and drawing four, without losing against Manchester United, making it their best run against the Red Devils in club history.
On 5 November, Chelsea stunned Everton at Stamford Bridge with a 5–0 win. With this win, Chelsea had five consecutive league victories, scoring 16 goals and conceding none in their last five games. The win also sent The Blues top of the Premier League table going into the international break.On 18 November, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Antonio Conte both won the Premier League Player of the Month and the Premier League Manager Of the Month awards respectively for the month of October.On 26 November, Chelsea ended Tottenham Hotspur’s unbeaten run since the start of the Premier League season, where Chelsea won 2–1.
On 3 December, Chelsea handed Man City their first home defeat after the Blues came back from a Gary Cahill own goal in the first half with three second half goals to earn a 3–1 victory. The match ended in a wide-scale brawl that occurred as a result of a Sergio Aguero two legged lunge tackle on Chelsea defender David Luiz. Following the brawl, Aguero and Fernandinho were both sent off with straight red cards, Fernandinho being sent off due to his violent conduct against Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas. Aguero received a four-match ban for his actions, while Fernandinho received a three-match ban.
On 9 December, Chelsea became the first club to collect three Premier League awards in the same month, picking up all the prizes for November. Diego Costa was named Player of the Month after registering two goals and two assists in three November contests; Antonio Conte was named Manager of the Month for the second successive month after guiding the club a perfect three wins out of three matches, and Pedro won Premier League goal of the Month for November thanks to his curling effort from outside the box in the match against Spurs on 26 November.
Chelsea equalled a top flight record of 13 consecutive wins in a single season with a thrilling 4–2 home victory over Stoke City. By the end of 2016 Chelsea were sitting on the top of the table and had gained 49 points out of 19 games while Liverpool sitting 2nd with 43 points. On 4 January, Tottenham ended Chelsea’s 13-game winning run by defeating them 2–0 at White Hart Lane. A brace from midfielder Dele Alli with goals just before and after half time, prevented Chelsea from writing Premier League history with a fourteenth successive win.
Chelsea had returned to winning ways in the premier league with victories against Leicester City and Hull City. Chelsea recorded their second draw of the season as they drew against Liverpool at Anfield. David Luiz scored a stunning freekick on the first half at his 100th Premier League appearance, it was also his first goal in his second spell at Chelsea. The Blues were able to extend their lead to nine points as the two title contenders Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur both dropped points on the same night. Chelsea beat Arsenal 3–1 at home, the first goal was scored by Hazard as he clutched his game up in the 2nd half and scored within 8 minutes.
Chelsea’s run in the Fa Cup was smooth until they had to meet Spurs in the semi finals of the Fa Cup. As Chelsea had lost to Manchester United 2-0 in the previous gameweek, wherein Eden Hazard was man marked by Ander Herrera, altogether the blues had a bad game and were not able to play. Conte knew before the game that Spurs would try to man mark Hazard and Costa so he planned to play Batshuayi and Willian instead. The game was a lot more intense than expected that the manager had to bring on Hazard and Costa, the blues managed to win the game in style as Matic finished the game off by scoring an absolute worldie.
By the end of April, Conte did use play Chelsea in a 3-5-2 formation against Southampton and won the game 4-2 playing Fabregas, Kante and Matic in the midfield, and Hazard and Costa in the upfront showcasing the style of play that could be played the next season.Chelsea defeated West Bromwich Albion 1–0 to clinch the Premier League title as they went ten points clear with two games remaining. Michy Batshuayi scored the winning goal in the 82nd minute.
Chelsea defeated already-relegated Sunderland 5–1 with goals from Willian, Eden Hazard, Pedro and a brace from Michy Batshuayi – his fourth in three matches. It was the last league game for John Terry, who was subbed in the 26th minute to a standing ovation from all the supporters. This marked Chelsea’s 30th league win this season, most by any team in a single Premier league season. Chelsea ended up gaining 93 points, and ended up becoming one of the most remarkable seasons in Chelsea’s history as a few standout performers came through as Kante was awarded with premier league player of the season and Eden Hazard who was voted for Chelsea’s player of the season.
By the end of the season it was proved that Conte played a tactical masterclass that could not work for a long period. Conte became a negative figure in the dressing room after Costa declined to return to the training camp. At the end the clubs were able combat the system and hence people were also able to witness the same in the fa cup final that the blues side were dominated by Arsenal for most part of the game and lost 2-1.