Chelsea’s title defense in the Premier League was sad last year. They were never even in contention in the EPL form the opening match. Not only were they never in contention for the championship, they were never in the running for a spot in the Champions League either. They were so bad, that they didn’t even earn a place in the Europa League. For a while, there was even talk about them possibly being relegated if things got much worse.
They finished tenth in the 20 team league with 50 points, some 31 points short of Leicester city, the Premier League champions. They had only 12 wins in their 38 matches along with 12 losses and 14 draws. Manager Jose Mourinho didn’t even survive to the end of the season before getting fired. He is now the boss at Manchester United.
Antonio Conte takes over this season for the Blues. He was the manager of Juventus for three years and then the National Team of Italy.
Chelsea will have one advantage this year over their competitors. Much like Leicester City did last year, they do not have any other competitions to worry about other than the Premier League. Leicester City had no Champions League, Europa League, F. A. Community Shield, only the F. A. Cup and Premier League matches. With the extra rest and no international travel during the season, they got better as the season went along. Chelsea can use that to its advantage this year.
Chelsea still has a talented squad with players such as Oscar, Fabregas, Hazard, Costa, Terry and Ivanovich. Without the burden of being the defending champions, they could perhaps play with a bit more freedom this year as well. Look for Chelsea to be a championship contender in the upcoming season.
They kick off the 2016-17 campaign on Monday August 15 at home vs West Ham. West Ham fished seventh with 62 points a season ago, and qualified for the Europa League. This will be a stern test for Conte and his Chelsea team right off the bat. After West Ham, they will return to action on the 20th against Watford on the road and then a week later will be home against Burnley. After that they will go to Swansea City on 9-11. So of they can get a win in the West Ham match, the schedule sets up nicely for them to get off to a fast start.
They will need to do well in those first four matches because after that they have Liverpool and Arsenal in the next two matches, then after a match with Hull City they will host Leicester City and then Manchester United. So they can ill afford a slow start.