Winning the title in your first season isn’t easy, but Conte is a serial winner. Much has been made of the squad he inherited and the terrible season they endured the season before, but it was much the same team that won the league the year prior. Investment in his chosen system paid off after switching to a 3-4-3 as a reaction to losing 3-0 to Arsenal.
Blues fans will be secretly disgruntled at not winning the FA Cup and it showed that investment will be needed to fight on multiple fronts next season. There is however, not a lot to complain about, with a positive record against top six rivals and the teams they perhaps should beat.
Top since week 11, one of the longest winning runs in Premier League history and almost a clean sweep of post-season awards for the players and manager alike. What may be even more impressive is the form of players who either were disregarded or under performing last year. Hazard more than tripled his goalscoring output, as did Chelsea’s defence as a whole, with Cahill netting six times alone.
They were bettered by Spurs in goals scored and conceded, but it’s often said that champions grind out the ugly 1-0’s, which they did on five occasions against stubborn opposition.
Strength in depth is key at the top. Competing on four fronts against England’s and Europe’s best will be a huge task and the substitutes have to be able to do the business, like Fabregas did this year.
The likeliness is that reserve and youth players will get more game time in the domestic cups this time around. So expect to see more of England’s youth players unless they are shipped out on loan.
It looks like Costa will be leaving, but where remains a mystery with Atletico having their transfer ban upheld. He’s likely to become someone’s bargaining chip to lure players away from the Spanish giants in January. His replacement is widely touted to be Lukaku, who should be more than adept. His compatriot Batshuayi may well have to leave though.
Cover in defence is the only other area that seems to need addressing. Koulibaly is again being linked but they could scupper Liverpool’s move for Van Dijk. It seems as though Ake is surplus to requirements after being brought back from loan and not playing and Chelsea now courting Alex Sandro.
Much will depend on Conte’s faith in the likes of Zouma, Christensen, Chalobah, Loftus-Cheek and Ake.