EPL

One Step Beyond: Chelsea Football Club Win 2016-17 Premier League

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - MAY 12: Michy Batshuayi of Chelsea celebrates scoring a goal to make the score 0-1 during the Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Chelsea at The Hawthorns on May 12, 2017 in West Bromwich, England. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/WBA FC via Getty Images)
One Step Beyond: Chelsea Football Club Win 2016-17 Premier League

Founded on March 10, 1905, 112 years ago, the Chelsea Football Club have made a name for themselves as one of the most storied clubs in the Premier League. Owned by Roman Abramovich, the Blues, named after the old Metropolitan Borough of the same name (now part of the borough of Kensington and Chelsea), have found winning the top league honor in football to be elusive. In recent years, the Blues have been winning the odd title or two and this season, after taking a step back last year to Leicester City (who, thankfully, will be back in the EPL next year after nearly falling apart), they have roared back at the top with the heart of lions in the mold of those that adorn its iconic trophy.

Belgian international Michy Batshuayi arrived to the Blues at the start of this year after a strong stint with Marseille. After coming up agonizingly close to winning a Coupe de France with OM, the 23-year old Brussels boy built for the big occasion delivered some booming Friday night late show late mail heroics at the Hawthorns in West Bromwich.

Bats All, Folks: Batshuayi’s 82nd minute strike from close distance sunk Tony Pulis’ slumping, sleepwalking slowpokes from West Bromwich Albion for a 1-0 victory in the shade of the Midland night, putting the Blues in full bloom. With two league matches remaining, Chelsea held off Mauricio Pocchetino’s Tottenham Hotspur Football Club and won its fifth Premier League title—its sixth top division crown including its EFL crown won back in 1955, fifty years after the club’s founding.

“I celebrated with my players which is normal after a great achievement like this,” said Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, who follows in the footsteps of Claudio Ranieri in the elite company of classy Italian managers to win the pinnacle of the rough and tumble world of English league football. “They wet me after the celebrations with the fans, they poured champagne and beer over me so I had to change my clothes, my suit is a disaster now.

 

“I’m wearing the tracksuit but I’m living a very important moment. I’m enjoying it a lot because when you put a lot of passion, enthusiasm and hours into your work, and you don’t sleep, when you arrive in the moment it’s only right to celebrate with my fans, staff and the club. It’s a dream which is coming true.”

You can come up with any meme for this. Bats All, Folks. Bats The Way To Do It. Batman To The Rescue. How About Bats. Bat’ll Take Care Of Spurs. Bats Easy. And so on and so forth.
Ironically, the title-winning strike from young Michy Batshuayi was only his second league goal of the entire year. Diego Costa and Eden Hazard have provided the lions’ share of production for the blue lions of the stadium simply known as Stamford Bridge. Costa has 20 goals, Hazard has 15, while reliable veterans like Pedro (eight goals, eight assists), Willian (seven goals) and Cesc Fabregas (11 assists) are no slouches to delivering the goods.

“For him I’m pleased because he’s scored two goals, this one was very important for him and us,” Conte went on to say. “It’s great because it’s not easy in one moment to change the game. I did this to try to win and Michy repaid me a lot for my choice. Also Willian’s impact was very good. It means I trust my squad and this season we have had three competitions, league, FA Cup and Capital One Cup. For this reason certain players didn’t have a lot of time but they worked very hard, Michy is a great example. I’m very happy for him because to score a very important goal is great.”

There are a few teams who can lay claim to defeating the returning Premier League Champions. Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool accomplished this feat early in the season, delivering a 2-1 scalp at the Bridge. Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal, who the Blues will face later this month in the FA Cup Final, scored a similar result, but at home to the tune of 3-0 on Sept. 24. West Ham United also beat the Blues in the EFL Cup on Oct. 26. Tottenham also prevailed over Chelsea at White Hart Lane 2-0 on Jan. 4 and relegation threatened Crystal Palace also prevailed in a famous 2-1 victory at the Bridge that will go down as their worst-ever defeat of the entire season.

But the one defeat that set the tone for the rest of the season has to be their April 16 loss at Old Trafford to Manchester United. It is a significant result for both teams. For Manchester United, it gave them confidence that they would join Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League by winning the UEFA Europa League. The Red Devils face AFC Ajax of Amsterdam in the final in Stockholm on May 24. As for the Blues, they responded with five straight victories, including their title-clinching win over West Brom away.

“Our season didn’t start in the right way, we had many problems, not only one,” concluded Conte. “To find the right solution quickly wasn’t easy and for this I want to say thanks to my players because they trust in a new work and new philosophy. This result is for the attitude and behaviour of my players. I want to say thanks to our fans because they pushed a lot in every game, home and away. They deserve this.”

Chelsea have three more matches on the schedule before taking a break that is followed by a series of friendlies. In addition to the FA Cup Final with Arsenal at Wembley Stadium (which will be covered in our live blog on May 27 as part of coverage of the Coupe de France Final), the Blues have two home contests prior: May 15 against Walter Mazzarri’s Watford Football Club and May 21 at home to relegated Sunderland Football Club.

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@joryansalazar

Jo-Ryan Salazar is a writer for The Stoppage Time, a soccer blog powered by Azteca Soccer. A supporter of the Los Angeles Galaxy since 1996 and a committed supporter since 2002, Jo-Ryan also follows Chelsea FC, Melbourne Victory, FC Tokyo and Paris Saint-Germain. Apart from soccer, Jo-Ryan is an administrative assistant for a local nonprofit in Long Beach, California and also does photography, photo-editing and fictional writing.

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