With just seven games to the coronation of the next champions of the prestigious English Premier League, Chelsea are runaway leaders, and short of a huge but highly unlikely disastrous mishap, Chelsea are set to be the 2017 champions.
Very little has changed from the Chelsea of 2015-16 under Jose Mourinho with regards to personnel, besides a new coach, and two new first eleven players.
At this same period last year, some fans of Chelsea still had fear of relegation on their minds. So why is Chelsea so dominant this season?
Could it be because of the arrival of “wonder coach” Antonio Conte?
Conte has definitely brought new life and a tactical change to the Chelsea that was previously under Jose Mourinho, but both managers do have some similarities.
Both thrive on the provoked errors of the opposition and are not particularly interested in dominant ball possession, as they are result oriented.
Many mocked Mourinho for “Parking the Bus”, But Conte does it even more often, with a five-man defensive line to first and assure a clean sheet. So far, after 31 EPL games played, Chelsea have conceded only 25 goals, an average of 0.8 goals per match.
Verdict: Conte is instrumental, but not the most important factor to the change in fortunes.
Could it be because of the return to form of Eden Hazard and Diego Costa?
Chelsea have been lightening when they go on the counter and have scored 65 goals in 31 encounters, with Eden hazard scoring 14 goals and Diego Costa 17 goals.
They both account for almost half of the goals scored by Chelsea, and have both made five assists each.
Verdict: They have been exceptional, but it gets better.
Could it be the fact that Chelsea did not qualify for Europe this year?
Due to last season’s relatively disastrous finish in the league, Chelsea were absent in European competitions this year.
But if the rest they benefit from due to that absence is believed by some to be the key to their success, then a glance at the fortunes of Liverpool, who are also absent from Europe but trail Chelsea by 12 points with one extra game in hand, should put that notion to rest.
In the history of the Premier League, no player has succeeded in winning the Premier League back to back with two different teams.
However, should Chelsea be crowned champions this summer, N’Golo Kanté will go down in history as the first player to achieve that feat: having won it with surprise champions Leicester last season.
Ever since his departure, Leicester have had a nightmare season and at one point had to change managers for fear of relegation to the Championship.
Kante’s departure has cost Leicester their solidity where it matters the most, in midfield
Manchester United and Arsenal were two of several world top teams that wanted to acquire the services of Kanté for this season, but he chose the Chelsea challenge, claiming that of all the suitors, they were the most persistent.
Kanté is tireless. In a team that is set massively around defending such as Conte’s version of Chelsea, they need a player in the midfield, in front of the defensive line, to give them non-stop umbrella like cover from deep along with penetrating passes, winning back balls from the opposition and having a high volume of physical output.
Kanté does not only do the above in an unprecedented manner for Chelsea, but he constantly provides support for the offensive players of Chelsea going forwards, winning the ball at the right moment before immediately setting up counter attacks for Chelsea’s deadly attackers, and has also scores on occasion to help his team win.
Chelsea has so much balance thanks to Kanté's output. He is fast, intelligent, reads the game well, anticipates the opposition’s moves, combative, modest, and generous. He is an exemplary team player needed in a team setup such as Antonio Conte’s.
In the last 31 games, Kanté has been the most consistent player in the Chelsea fold, even during rare occasions when they lost, he still stood out as one of the best!
A successful and dominant team is just like a strong and conquering man: “A man is as strong as his backbone”. Chelsea’s backbone is N’Golo Kanté!