May 16, 2017

FREE KICKS: The dominance of Chelsea

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

Congratulations to Chelsea for officially clinching the Premier League – and doing it on Friday, with two games left to play in the season.

The Blues’ win over West Brom sealed the deal after Tottenham’s challenge ended last week with a shocking loss to West Ham.

While you may think back to last season and remember just how poor the defending champs Chelsea played, finishing tenth and looking a team in shamble with none other than Jose Mourinho at the helm, let’s not forget just how dominant Chelsea has been since Roman Abramovich bought the team in 2003.

Under the Russian oligarch, Chelsea has won five titles, seven domestic cups, the Champions League and Europa League. The Blues also have the most EPL wins in that span.

In case you were wondering, only Manchester United has won as many titles as Chelsea during that time and it still looks to be in the midst of the same rebuilding process it has been in since Sir Alex Ferguson stepped down years ago.

The official celebration will be on Sunday, but the party is already under way. Diego Costa is snacking while on the sidelines, the kids are getting in some game action and even John Terry is scoring some goals.

Expect the former captain to get a nice send off while the Blues lift the trophy on Sunday. It will be a nice farewell before he comes back to StamfordBridge next season as a visitor with a team like CrystalPalace.

This is a team that will see some more changes than Terry leaving over the summer, though. Costa has already reportedly accepted a massive-money move to China, so expect Chelsea to be in for some big strikers. Eden Hazard could be in demand from a team like Real Madrid. There is plenty of youth rising up the ranks while Pedro, Victor Moses and Gary Cahill could all see themselves put in the background.

The one thing we know about Chelsea is that it will have plenty of funds to spend to stay at the top. Competing in the Champions League once again will only make things more difficult, but this is a team that could finally have some stability in management with Antonio Conte at the helm.

We can’t wait to see the fireworks on Sunday and then throughout the summer.


We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Philippe Coutinho is maddening.

Maddeningly skilled and maddeningly inconsistent.

He can go weeks without making an impact in a game and then absolutely destroy an opponent, like he did against West Ham on Sunday.

It wasn’t just the two goals and an assist, either. It was the quality of his strikes that made his game truly special.

There will no doubt be some debate about whether he’ll stay at Anfield through the summer, but Liverpool would be smart to hold on to him for the moments like this.


The fight for the final Champions League spot will come down to the final day. Liverpool will clinch it with a victory, but could also get in with a draw as long as Arsenal doesn’t win. The Gunners have the tougher matchup, hosting Everton while the Reds play relegated Middlesbrough at Anfield, but we’ve all seen what Liverpool is capable of against the lesser lights of the league – it’s not great … Tottenham leaves White Hart Lane following an undefeated season at home, pushing past Manchester United in the finale. Spurs will play their home games at Wembley next season, which sounds nice, but the team doesn’t have the best record at the national team’s home … Points between Everton and Southampton, No. 7 and 8 in the table, respectively: 15. Gap between Southampton and 18th-place HullCity: 11 points … Remember when everyone was lauding Tony Pulis’ Baggies for storming up the table and looking like a Europa League challenger? Well, West Brom now has the longest winless streak in the league at eight games and counting … HullCity has officially been relegated, leaving Burnley as the only promoted team to survive its first season this year. And to think how well the Tigers started out, despite their many problems early on … Interesting statistic of the day – Days at the top of the table this season: Hull City 1, Tottenham 0.


We’ll have more on our awards next week after the final round of games, but the Premier League released its shortlist with the eight men vying for the Player of the Year award.

Three Chelsea players (N’Golo Kante, Eden Hazard and Cesar Azpilicueta), three Spurs (Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Jan Vertonghen), Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez are all up for the honour.

Of course, we’ve already seen Kante named the player of the year by the football writers, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee he’ll win. He does deserve it, though.

Kante is the machine in the Chelsea midfield that makes it tick. If not for the Frenchman, I’m not sure if the Blues would be atop the table right now.

And while it wouldn’t necessarily be nonsense to give the award to a player from the second-place team, I’m not sure there’s a player in the league that had the singular impact that Kante did with the champs.

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

Leave a Reply