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Champion tag – Too Much for Chelsea

Winning the Premier League is not so much of a herculean task; defending it, however, is a backbreaking challenge. The tag “Premier League Champions” comes with an inexplicable burden that makes things a notch more difficult. Chelsea carries this burden nowadays and they seem to be crumbling under it.

Last season, Chelsea didn’t start the season as strongly as they’d had liked. Defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal saw Antonio Conte returning to the drawing board to find a solution to the problem; he came up with a 3-4-3 system – two wingbacks, three centre-halves, two defensive midfielders, two deadly wingers and a potent number 9.

To a large extent, it confused opponents and solved Chelsea’s problem. Defeats were few and far between – they even went on a thirteen-game winning streak. In May, they were handed the Premier League crown. No one had an answer to Chelsea’s defensive-attacking system. This season, however, the story is a different one.

The 3-4-3 formation – no longer incomprehensible

Last season, one major edge Chelsea had over their opponents was their formation. Managers spent hours in the locker room, pondering how best to beat it. Ronald Koeman took his Everton wards to the Bridge and tried to match it; he ended up getting hammered 5-nil. Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho, Mauricio Pochetttino, Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and the rest, all got beaten soundly competing against Chelsea’s 3-4-3 formation. It simply threw the title in Chelsea’s path for an easy pickup.

The ambiguity of 3-4-3 lasted through last season. This term, opposing managers are beginning to show a better understanding of Chelsea’s title-winning system. Stifle their wingbacks, cut off the supply to the wingers and striker – create your chances and the Champions could go home red-faced. Sean Dyche did exactly that with his Burnley team when the visited Stamford Bridge on matchday one – they ended up beating the League holders.

Pep Guardiola and Arsene Wenger did same – one secured a win while the other salvaged a barren draw. Last season, both managers saw their teams rounded up and beaten on the same ground.

Stamford Bridge won’t hold

Usually, when a team wins the title, most of her points are gotten at home. It’s been the trend since. Leicester was impregnable at the King Power in 2015-16 season – losing just once at home. In perspective, 48 of their 81 points were won at home. Last season, Chelsea were also superb at home. The Champions lost only six points at the Bridge.

Just seven games into the new season, Chelsea has already dropped more point (8) than they did in the entirety of last season (6).

It tells the story of how much Chelsea will struggle at home this season. The Blues had a fortress at the Bridge last season but this term, you just have to fear for them. With the likes of Manchester United, Spurs and Liverpool still to visit the Champions at home, you begin to wonder how many more points they’ll lose from their base.

Opponents come better prepared

It’s one of the unwanted souvenirs that comes with being the Premier League defending Champions; opponents show up prepared to make the Champions look pretty silly. Most of these opponents must’ve been beaten, perhaps even whitewashed during the previous season and would come ready to prevent a repeat. Burnley and Arsenal already showed this; both teams took a beating against Chelsea in the second half of last season, they turned it around in this.

Fourth on the League table, they’re better off from where they were last season at this point. However, the signs clearly show that Chelsea isn’t relishing their ‘Champions’ tag. They’re already beginning to crumble under the sheer burden it brings.

About the Author Kingsley

I am a football/soccer connoisseur who enjoys crafting interesting articles like the one you just read.

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