I was slightly nervous early in the season when Chelsea were going through a tough spell. I had predicted that the Blues under Antonio Conte would be one of the main title contenders this season.
Not that I have a particular attachment to the club from south west London. However, I have been a big fan of boss Antonio Conte for a good while.
The Blues poor spell now seems to be consigned to history. Five straight Premier League wins without conceding a goal have put them right back in the groove.
On Sunday the Blues travel to Middlesbrough high in confidence having dispatched hapless Everton 5-0 at Stamford Bridge in their last outing. Another win for the Blues cannot be ruled out in the north east.
Stars are finally shining
Chelsea’s dip in form last season was one of the most incredible ever seen in the Premier League. From champions to a team that could not beat an egg. Fantastic players like Diego Costa and Eden Hazard suddenly looked a shadow of themselves.
Former boss Jose Mourinho seemed to have had as much a negative effect on the team, as he had positive in their title-winning campaign.
New Blues boss Conte seems to have come in and reinvigorated the team, with Hazard and Costa the two players that have benefitted from the Italians arrival. Hazard has talked about his Italian boss setting him free. It is that freedom that has made the Belgian star shine so bright.
In the current formation, Hazard is given freedom to attack, without worrying about defensive duties. That freedom has brought seven goals and three Premier League assists this season. He is once again back to the sort of form that made him one of the English top-flight’s best players.
Hazard’s partner in crime is Costa. The snarling and feisty Spanish international striker has been back to his best this season. The striker has found the net nine goals and produced three assists. At the moment he is top of the scoring charts.
Costa is the perfect focal point of the Blues attack when he is on form. He can hold the ball up, play in others and works hard for the team. He may be controversial at times, but he seems to have reined in his temper this season.
The unsung heroes of Chelsea
Costa and Hazard may get the headlines. However, it is the players behind the attacking players that bring the right balance to the team. The addition of the versatile Marcos Alonso was not an eye-catching signing in the summer.
The Spaniard had endured rather unspectacular spells at Bolton and Sunderland earlier in his career. Some were questioning Conte signing the full-back from Fiorentina. However, Alonso has been one of the major successes for the Blues in recent weeks.
Playing as a wing-back, Alonso has done an excellent job going backwards and forward, scoring once and also producing an assist. On the other side of the pitch, Conte has revitalised Nigerian star, Victor Moses.
The former Crystal Palace star seems to have found his niche as a right wing-back. Moses is finally fulfilling some of his supposed potential at the age of 25. It has taken him long enough and Conte looks to have got some consistency out of Moses.
Trip to Middlesbrough this weekend
Chelsea head to face Middlesbrough on Sunday as hot favourites to record a win at odds of 11/20. The home side’s form has actually improved of late and Boro are unbeaten in three top-flight games, including trips to Arsenal and Manchester City.
The key to Boro’s recent improvement have been their solid defensive displays, conceding just the one goal in their last three league games. Despite that recent defensive improvement, Aitor Karanka’s side have won just one of their six home games in the top-flight this season.
Chelsea’s form has been outstanding of late. However, if the Blues really are to be considered genuine title contenders, then Sunday’s game is the sort that they need to negotiate if they are to be considered the real deal this season.
Will Chelsea continue their good run of form at Boro on Sunday?