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When Conte Managed Chelsea (Part Two)

Contining the series which commemorates Antonio Conte’s appointment as Tottenham manager by looking back to when he was in charge of their West London rivals, Chelsea.

For Part One please click here.

Conte began the 2016 -2017 season well, winning his first three league games, but then an indifferent September followed, culminating in a three nil defeat away to Arsenal at the Emirates.

That prompted Conte into a tactical re-think, and he adopted the back three system which had served him so well when he was in charge of Juventus. It meant that David Luiz could operate as the spare man at the back and freed of his defensive responsibilities, could focus on building out from the back.

Meanwhile, with Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso operating as wing-backs, they had two athletic players who could get u0p and down the pitch.

The move paved immediate dividends, and Chelsea embarked on a run of 13 successive league victories. Equalling the Premier League record for a single season set by Arsenal in 2002.

It was Tottenham who proved to be their closest challengers in the league, and statistically they ended the season with both the best attack and defence, with Harry Kane claiming the Golden Boot.

However, they drew too many games and eventually finished seven points behind Conte’s side. Manchester City and Liverpool claimed the two remaining Champions League places.

Meanwhile, Chelsea had the chance of completing a league and cup double after making it through to the FA Cup Final.

In the earlier rounds they had beaten Peterborough United, West London neighbours Brentford,  Wolves and Manchester United, before beating Tottenham 4 -2 at Wembley.

In the fianl they faced an Arsenal side who had only managed fifth in the league, and who were, in what proved to be, the final stages of Arsène Wenger’s career with the club.

Chelsea went into the match as firm favourites, but it was Arsenal who started the better, and they took the lead after five minutes, although there was some controversy surrounding the goal. Alexis Sanchez, who eventually scored it, seemed to handle the ball in the build-up, whilst Aaron Ramsey appeared to be standing in an offside position.

The Gunners continued to be the better side in the first-half and struck the post, but there were no further goals before the break.

Half-way through the second half, Victor Moses joined the select band of players who have been sent off in an FA Cup final, Already on a yellow card, he threw himself down in the Arsenal area in a bid to win a penalty and was booked for simulation.

To their credit, though, the ten men equalised soon afterwards through Diego Costa, but, as their fans were still celebrating. Arsenal took the lead again straight away from the restart thanks to Ramsey’s header.

There was no way back from there and Conte’s team had to content themselves with the league title.

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