When we play them November 25 (home); May 5 (away)
Last season: Drew 1-1 (home); Won 2-1 (away)
Few title triumphs in recent memory have been as conclusive as Chelsea‘s in 2016/17, with Conte’s men arguably having things wrapped up by Christmas.
A stunning winter run of form saw them leave rivals in their wake, including Liverpool, and it was impossible to begrudge them their success in the end.
The Blues were very fortunate with injuries, however—they used 14 players for the majority of the season—and the addition of Champions League football will make things harder in 2017/18.
In Eden Hazard, they have arguably the best player in the country, and if he and new signing Alvaro Morata click in attack, they could be a frightening proposition.
They are a team built on a superb defence and an ability to score at crucial times, but will the likes of David Luiz, Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso hit the same heights this time around?
Don’t expect the dominance of last year, but another title challenge is definitely on.
Players IN: Alvaro Morata, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Antonio Rudiger, Willy Caballero
Players OUT: Nemanja Matic, Nathan Ake, Juan Cuadrado, Asmir Begovic, Bertrand Traore, Christian Atsu, Nathaniel Chalobah, John Terry, Dominic Solanke, Todd Kane (loan), Danilo Pantic (loan), Jamal Blackman (loan), Mario Pasalic (loan), Michael Hector (loan), Matt Miazga (loan), Tammy Abraham (loan), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (loan), Tomas Kalas (loan), Ola Aina (loan), Kurt Zouma (loan), Izzy Brown (loan), Mason Mount (loan), Jay Dasilva (loan)
Best XI: Courtois; Moses, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill, Alonso; Kante, Fabregas; Willian, Hazard, Morata
We spoke to Chelsea supporter Richard Long to hear if he thinks another title is on the horizon, as well as getting his thoughts on Liverpool.
How optimistic or pessimistic are you for the new season, and why?
I am fairly optimistic and the main reason for that is Antonio Conte.
What he achieved in his first season in England was special, especially when you consider the amount spent by the Manchester clubs and who their managers are.
What are your aims for the season?
The realistic aim for the season has to be to try and retain the Premier League, which would represent another great season.
It will be exciting to see what Conte can do with this Chelsea side in the Champions League, but ultimately he is still making it his own team and I think we are some way off competing with the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Anything else that’s new for you this summer?
The obvious change will be not seeing Diego Costa leading the line—it’s sad the way Costa’s career at Chelsea is ending given what he has achieved and his relationship with the fans.
At the same time, it’s always exciting to a see a big-name striker join your team and there will be huge pressure on Alvaro Morata to fill Costa’s boots.
Away fans’ pubs: I had to ask a mate, because I’m not a regular pub-goer on matchdays. The Courtfield Tavern next to Earl’s Court tube station is away fan friendly, apparently, but this could easily be a setup!
One piece of advice for visiting fan: Away fans who turn up within 30 minutes of the gates opening (two hours before kickoff) can get a pint of beer, hot dog or pie for £2.50 inside the stadium.
How do you rate Liverpool’s chances heading into the season?
I think Liverpool will have had a good season if they finish in the top four again.
I think they overachieved last season and unless Jurgen Klopp is going to sign a couple of world-class defenders and a goalkeeper, I cannot see Liverpool challenging for the title.
Their attack does look very exciting, though, and I think Mohamed Salah is one to watch out for.
I was disappointed that he left but even more disappointed that he left for a team where he will continue to sit on the bench.
He is a huge talent but I cannot see him making a big impact at Liverpool because he won’t start games.
Time will tell, but I think he would have been better off with a loan move—like his old striking partner Tammy Abraham, who is now at Swansea.
TIA’s Chelsea Predicted Finish: 2nd
Where Richard says Chelsea will finish: 2nd
Where Richard says Liverpool will finish: 6th