Chelsea’s attempt at breaking Arsenal’s record 14-match winning run in the Premier League was ended by a Dele Alli double during their visit to Spurs on the 4th of January.
The in-form Tottenham midfielder netted twice which meant that Spurs leapfrogged Man City and Arsenal into third and tightened things up between the top six. Prior to this Chelsea had been untouchable for three months with their imperious streak commencing on October 1st 2016 with a 2-0 victory over Hull. The subsequent winning run included victories over Spurs, Man City, current champions Leicester and 4-0 and 5-0 victories over Man Utd and Everton respectively.
One of the stand-out games of the season thus far was the comeback over City; this preceded a heated brawl towards the end of the match after Sergio Aguero’s horror tackle on David Luiz. Statistically, Chelsea’s thirteen wins consisted of 32 goals scored, four goals conceded, ten clean sheets, an average winning margin of 2.57 goals over top-half teams, and 1.67 over bottom-half teams. Chelsea’s consecutive wins fired them to the top of the Premier League table where they sit at the start of 2017.
Chelsea’s success has also been reflected off the pitch. Conte won Manager of the Month for October and November and with six wins out of six it would not be a surprise if he walks away with December’s award as well. Additionally, Eden Hazard and Diego Costa won the ‘Player of the Month’ awards for October and November respectively. Perhaps one of Conte’s most impressive feats is the way he has handled his star players, Hazard and Costa, who were nowhere near their best last season. He now has them playing back at the peak of their powers. Costa is looking particularly dangerous this campaign and he currently heads the league’s scoring charts.
It is some turnaround for the West London club who started the season with an indifferent run of form. Briefly, it seemed the demands of the Premier League were proving too much for the newly appointed manager as after seven games Chelsea sat seventh in the league, and Conte was even touted by some bookmakers as the next manager to be sacked. Attempting to play in the style of previous Chelsea teams, Conte and his side were unconvincing, and after a 3-0 loss to London rivals Arsenal he decided to take a gamble. Conte decided to revert to his favoured 3-5-2 formation and has reaped the rewards ever since. The Italian has utilised new signings Marcos Alonso and the returning Luiz along with a revived Victor Moses in his new look side which has shone ever since.
Spurs exacted sweet revenge on their London rivals with victory at the Lane to put to bed lingering memories of last season’s title collapse to the hands of the blues. Pochettino’s men are a force to be reckoned with, especially at White Hart Lane where the manager always has his tactics spot on. Tottenham are expected to challenge for the title again this season along with Man City, Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea. The lack of European football suggests that Chelsea and Liverpool have the edge in the title race, however, rarely has there been this many strong teams competing at the top. While the Premier League title could well go to a team in blue for the fourth consecutive season, it is fair to say that last season’s champions, Leicester City, will not be in the shake-up come the end of the season.