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Fixture congestion, tougher opponents – Chelsea should expect these and more next season

Thursday 11th May 2017
The 2016-17 Premier League title has been won and lost. The team that has set the standard is Chelsea. The West Londoners have absolutely blazed the trail. Aside from winning the league for the second time in three years, Chelsea could break the record for the most wins in a Premier League season if they win three more games.

In 2014, Chelsea intimidated all comers in the Premier League and secured their fourth League title without breaking a sweat. The Blues remained top of the pile, from start to finish. A season after that, the Blues rested on their oars and ended up capitulating to their worst Premier League finish in the Roman Abramovic era; it ended in Jose Mourinho being shown the door.

In the 2015-16 Premier League season, Leicester City usurped Chelsea as Champions; just like Chelsea, they slumped into the relegation zone and ended up bringing down the axe on their gaffer, Claudio Ranieri. It all bores down to how these clubs prepared themselves for what to expect, after a successful season.

Chelsea finds themselves in that position again, this time they've proved too strong to be toppled from the summit of the league. Antonio Conte's men have been league leaders for twenty-three consecutive weeks. Next season, the Blues must expect a different kettle of fish; we discuss a few things the men from SW6 should not see as a surprise next season.

Opponents will come more prepared

Antonio Conte must take a leave from Leicester City travails this season; teams will come set and ready to rip the Champions to shreds next season. They're probably watching Chelsea tapes already, and musing on how to make them suffer.

A good example of how next season will look is Chelsea's reverse fixture at Manchester United. Jose Mourinho's side had suffered a humiliating 4-0 defeat at the Bridge but lay in wait for the league leaders at Old Trafford. Mourinho prepared his group, assigned Ander Herrera to man-mark Eden Hazard and the Blues were doused.

There'll be plenty more of that next season. Teams can't wait to pounce on Chelsea and hurt the defending champs.

Fixture congestion

Jose Mourinho has cried and wailed about the number of games his team has had to play and the time frame between these games. In Jose's mind eye, he can see Manchester United sitting where Chelsea currently is if only his side did not have so many fixture commitments.

No matter how exaggerated Mourinho's claims are, they still have some substance. You can't compare a well-rested team and a team that has had a couple of days to rest before crunch ties. In most games, Antonio Conte has had seven or more days to prepare his team. It has paid off, with Chelsea doing so well, with minimal injury concerns to worry about.

Next season, the story would be much different; Chelsea will be competing actively on four fronts. With so many games to play, fixture pileup could be a bane.

An uphill title defence

The last team to successfully defend their Premier League title is Manchester United, that was in 2008 and 2009. Since then, teams have struggled to hold on to the holy grail for more than a season. Chelsea successfully defended their 2005 Premier League title in 2006 but found that feat difficult to repeat in 2011 and 2015.

2018 will present another shot at a title defence and the Blues must expect another daunting challenge. Their travails in 2011 and 2015 should present a stern lesson. If they can keep the likes of Eden Hazard and Diego Costa, as well bring in reinforcements, the Blues could again be freighting next season.

A trophy-less season

A trophy-less season is always on the cards for the Premier League champions. Chelsea could easily find themselves struggling to win a trophy next season. It's easy to get caught up in the quagmire after a euphoric season and end up finishing the year empty handed.

Antonio Conte must be wary of this. The last Italian Chelsea manager (Carlo AnceloAtti) who finished a season without gold, was shown the exit; despite winning the domestic double, a season ago.
Kingsley Ukpai

Kingsley is a football aficionado who craves to read, watch, play and write about the greatest team sport ever known to man. If you're talking football he'll be keen to listen to what you have to say. Loves to play Fantasy Football too.

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