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Get the lowdown on Antonio Conte's champions Chelsea ahead of Monday's Premier League match-up

Opposition Focus | Chelsea


Football Whispers' deputy editor and Chelsea fan Adam Newson provides the lowdown on the Blues

Is there a danger Chelsea will take it easy?

“There are many sides who would sit back and relax having clinched a title, but they wouldn't be managed by Antonio Conte. The Italian will ensure the Blues are in the right frame of mind to put on a show at Stamford Bridge and demonstrate why they are champions. 

“So expect the usual suspects to line-up and the same level of intensity we've seen for much of this season. Chelsea can reach 93 points if they win their remaining two games, which would be the second highest total achieved in the Premier League, so they won't be lacking in motivation.”

How can Watford hurt Chelsea?

“It's not easy but the one area the Blues have looked a little shaky at times this season is when they are defending crosses, that was never more evident than back in January when Dele Alli scored two headed goals from Christian Eriksen deliveries. 

“If Watford hope to leave Stamford Bridge with at least at point, as they did last season, then utilising the physical prowess of Troy Deeney and Stefano Okaka against Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta may be their best chance.”

What's been key to Chelsea's title win?

“It would be too simplistic to put it entirely down to Conte's decision to change to a 3-4-3 system but it certainly was the decisive moment in the season. 

“It's a formation that has brought out the best in several players. David Luiz has blossomed into a fine central defender, Victor Moses has gone from perennial loanee to buccaneering wing-back, Pedro has become the player who shone at Barcelona and, most importantly, Eden Hazard has recaptured his best form. 

“Playing as one of the two behind Diego Costa, Hazard is free to roam across the pitch. He can get involved in Chelsea's build-up play where and when he pleases instead of being restricted to the left flank. 

“It has also freed him from any defensive responsibility as left wing-back Marcos Alonso is able to get in and support Gary Cahill.”

Nordin Amrabat and Cesar Azpilicueta in Waford's 2-1 home defeat to Chelsea in August

Who has been the player of the season?

“There are a few candidates but it's got to be N'Golo Kante. When he joined from Leicester City last summer there were very few Chelsea fans that didn't know what the diminutive midfielder was about, but many didn't realise just how good the France international was. 

“He truly does the job of two players. He is firstly a midfield destroyer, winning back possession and nipping at the heels of opposition midfielders - only Idrissa Gueye has made more tackles in the Premier League this season than Kante. 

“The second part of his game is as a box-to-box midfielder, it's an aspect of his play that is vastly underrated. Kante is often the man who starts Chelsea counter-attacks, utilising his pace to great effect.

“He breaks forward at speed before intelligently offloading to one of the Blues' more creative players. If possession is lost, he is quickly back in position alongside Nemanja Matic, ready to break up attacks. 

“Chelsea have one of the best defensive records in the Premier League this season, Kante has played a huge part in that.”

What's the view on Watford's season from Stamford Bridge?

“Like the majority of Premier League supporters, Chelsea fans will look at Watford comfortably staying up once again and think it's been a successful season. 

“When Walter Mazzarri was brought in last summer avoiding relegation would've been the Hornets' main priority and they have done that with games to spare. 

“Yes, it looked a bit tetchy in January but that win away at Arsenal followed up with victory over Burnley back at Vicarage Road was seemingly the turning point.”


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