Chelsea crowned champions
A late winner from the most unlikely of sources handed Chelsea the Premier League title on Friday night, as Michy Batshuayi poked home a dramatic goal at the Hawthorns and sparked a furious Blues celebration. Chelsea did what they did best all season: winning when it mattered most, and confirmed their second title in three years.
The Blues withstood a half-hearted title challenge from Spurs, who although were on sparkling form at the end of the year, never truly could make up the lost ground. A key factor to Chelsea’s title was their run of 13 straight wins, a brilliant spell of form that left the rest of the league in the dust.
Chelsea’s remarkable turn of fortunes can be attributed to the addition of two vital members to the squad over the summer: Antonio Conte and N’Golo Kante. The Italian manager continued his superb league success from his days at Juventus; his switch to a 3-4-3 in late fall proved a brilliant masterstroke in Chelsea’s title success. The French midfielder also added a massive presence in Chelsea’s midfield, breaking up play and effectively shielding the Blues’ backline en route to his second straight Premier League title.
Now Chelsea’s focus will turn to hopefully building another dynasty at Stamford Bridge, but they must be cautious. The last time Chelsea won the league in dominating fashion, back in 2014/15, talks of a dynasty followed as well; everyone knows how the ensuing season turned out.
Relegation woes for Boro and Hull
The flipside of the joys of the title is the crushing despair of relegation, and this year two promoted sides joined Sunderland in returning to the Championship. Middlesbrough and Hull City both will go straight back down to the second division after their relegation was confirmed, yet Hull provided much more of a fight than Boro ever did.
Boro looked destined for relegation ever since the festive period, where they started a multi-month winless run that resulted in the sacking of Aitor Karanka. Hull started out the season in crisis mode with only 12 senior players in the squad, and sacked their manager Mike Phelan and replaced him with the Portuguese Marco Silva. The appointment was derided in many British circles as few had heard of him in England, yet Silva had been hugely successful in Greece and immediately brought better results to the KCOM Stadium. Sadly for the Tigers, they faltered at the crucial moment and shockingly lost to Sunderland and Crystal Palace in consecutive weeks without tallying a single goal.
Hull and Boro both head into the Championship with question marks remaining over their managerial situation come next August; Silva has attracted the attention of top clubs and Boro are still yet to name a permanent manager. Whoever is on the sidelines at the start of the Championship season, they are sure to endure a grueling, 46-match slog in order to return to the Premier League.