Antonio Conte looks set to claim a first English championship in his debut season and is still in with a chance of making it two trophies
Chelsea have a comfortable 10-point lead at the top of the Premier League and are eyeing a domestic double after reaching the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
After a dreadful 2015-16 campaign, Antonio Conte has done a remarkable job in his first season in charge at Stamford Bridge to not only return the Blues to title contention but have them running away at the top of the division.
Bayern’s Sule explains Chelsea snub
Having lost only one match since in the league and FA Cup since switching to a 3-4-3 formation last October, Chelsea would appear to be unstoppable in their quest to lift at least one trophy at the end of the season. But can anyone stop them claiming two?
We’ve taken a look at the fixture list and guessed how things might shake out.
|01/04/17||Crystal Palace||H||Premier League|
|05/04/17||Man City||H||Premier League|
|16/04/17||Man United||A||Premier League|
|13/05/17||West Brom||A||Premier League|
|27/05/17||FA Cup final||N||FA Cup|
GAMES THEY SHOULD WIN
Crystal Palace – H (Premier League)
Sam Allardyce finally seems to have figured things out at Selhurst Park and Palace have won three straight league games, but Chelsea have only dropped points in one home match all season. That was back in September.
Bournemouth – A (Premier League)
Bournemouth are another side on the up after a bad run of form, so the visit to the Vitality Stadium will not be easy. The Cherries are not the tightest team defensively, though, and if Chelsea keep it tight at the back they should create enough chances to win.
Southampton – H (Premier League)
Manolo Gabbiadini has given the Saints major attacking punch and they have put four past both Watford and Sunderland away from home recently, but the better teams tend to have too much for them. With Jose Fonte sold in January and Virgil van Dijk potentially out for the season, they are vulnerable at the back.
Middlesbrough – H (Premier League)
This game could be tougher than it currently looks if Middlesbrough get any kind of uplift from whoever replaces Aitor Karanka, but as of today they are in freefall and have been since December. A straightforward Chelsea win is most likely.
West Brom – A (Premier League)
This might be the toughest game on the ‘win’ list, but you’d still fancy Chelsea to come through it. West Brom are a solid side but their record against the top six was not especially good until their recent win over struggling Arsenal.
Sunderland – H (Premier League)
Not a lot needs to be said about this meeting between the Premier League’s best team and its worst, though if Sunderland are still alive in the relegation fight and Chelsea have wrapped up the title the Black Cats may have the higher motivation levels.
Watford – H (Premier League)
Still to be rearranged due to Chelsea’s progress in the FA Cup, Watford are meandering to another mid-table finish but have caused a couple of surprises against Arsenal and Manchester United this season.
What this means
Victories in all seven of these games would give Chelsea an extra 21 points in the league, taking them to 90 and comfortably sealing the title without even adding the more difficult matches into the equation.
GAMES THEY COULD LOSE
Man City – H (Premier League)
We know Chelsea are very good at home, so few would bet on them to be beaten here by Pep Guardiola’s work-in-progress team. City have won four away games on the trot in the league, though, and Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane are a dangerous counter-attacking duo.
Man United – A (Premier League)
Chelsea’s chances may depend on Jose Mourinho’s approach in this match. If their old boss shuts up shop and focuses on avoiding defeat, the Blues may have to settle for a draw. If he opens up and tries to beat them, they will fancy their chances of going toe-to-toe with United.
Tottenham – N (FA Cup)
Spurs have not had much luck at Wembley in Europe this season, which Chelsea will hope bodes well for their FA Cup semi-final tie on April 22. Make no mistake, though; Mauricio Pochettino side earned the Blues’ respect by ending their long winning run with a superb performance back in January.
Everton – A (Premier League)
After years of inconsistency, Ronald Koeman is starting to coax Everton in the right direction on a foundation of strong home form. Only Tottenham and Chelsea themselves have collected more points than the Toffees on home turf this season and Romelu Lukaku is always fired up for this match.
TBC – N (FA Cup)
If Chelsea can see off Spurs, either Arsenal or Man City will be waiting for them in the final match of the season at Wembley. The Blues may well see Tottenham as a tougher opponent than either but we should be able to look forward to a tremendous final regardless of who progresses.
Which PL challengers have it toughest?
What this means
A few difficult fixtures stand in the way of Chelsea and the title, but not enough to greatly affect the outcome of their season. Conte’s biggest test left in his debut campaign is against Tottenham in the cup, which promises to be one of the matches of the season.