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Monday, 22 August 2016

Chelsea

Chelsea have won the Premier League title four times, most recently in 2014/15, but a turbulent start to the 2015/16 – in which the Blues lost nine of the their opening 16 Premier League matches – saw the departure of Jose Mourinho. Guus Hiddink was appointed head coach in December, with the club teetering on the brink of the relegation zone, and subsequently steered them to mid-table stability, but was replaced by former Italy coach Antonio Conte at the conclusion of the 2016 European Championship.

In their opening fixtures of the 2016/17 Premier League season, Chelsea have beaten West Ham 2-1 at Stamford Bridge and Watford 2-1 at Vicarage Road, but have relied on Diego Costa for a late winning goal on both occasions. Nevertheless, Eden Hazard has looked particularly sharp and creative, as have new signings Michy Batshauyi (from Marseille) and N’Golo Kante (from Leicester City).

Conte has spent £65 million, but is likely to pursue further signings, with Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini, Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, Real Madrid striker James Rodriguez and Juventus striker Mario Mandukic among those listed as potential transfer targets. Chelsea are currently 11/2 third favourites, behind the two Manchester clubs, to win their fifth Premier League title and, while the other new managers, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, will be keen to make their mark, Conte’s iron discipline could be just what’s needed at Stamford Bridge.

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