Sunday 20 August 2017 / 04:41 AM

WHERE WERE CHELSEA’S COMPETITION?

And so it is confirmed: Chelsea are the Premier League champions for the 2016/17 season.

If we’re honest with each other, this is:

a) Not a surprise
b) Fully deserved

As far back as December, most of us were predicting a Chelsea title win, with Antonio Conte’s team getting into a stride that looked pretty much impossible to counter.

The Italian must be credited for his ability to switch things up; changing formations after their early-season form left many concerned that the team still retained a hangover from the previous campaign.

In many ways, the entire season is a credit to Conte, who has picked up this side broken following the soap opera that engulfed Stamford Bridge last season.

He is a tactician, he is a motivator, and he might end up being a double winner too, which Chelsea due to face Arsenal in the FA Cup final in a couple of weeks.

But here’s the question:

Where was the competition?

Even relatively early in January, Chelsea appeared to have the league sewn up, and it was only the form of Tottenham Hotspur that created something resembling a title race.

Where were the usual suspects?

In reality, they were nowhere to be seen.

At the time of writing, Man City are 15 points behind Chelsea, Man United are 22, Liverpool 14 and Arsenal 18.

They just haven’t been at the races.

In the case of Arsenal, one might argue that Wenger’s side have scarcely been at the races in the last decade, but the other three must ask questions of themselves.

Three of what most regard as the talented managers on the globe.

Three huge supports.

Three huge transfer budgets.

And despite all this Liverpool, United and City have all looked a long way from champions this season.

Instead it is Tottenham, the side with the smallest stadium, the smallest wage bill and the smallest transfer budget, that have gone toe to toe with Chelsea and pushed them until the 36th game.

It is too simplistic to regard this as a fluke, for it happened last year too.

What has happened to supposedly great English clubs?

Scarcely a decade ago, United were one of the most feared clubs in Europe, now they’re pinning all their hopes on a Europa League win.

In the same time frame, City have had millions and millions of pounds ploughed into their entire business, but yet they seem to have regressed further this season.

And Liverpool, once the pride of Europe, once the club that ruled England, scrapping away for a Champions League place.

It is not good enough, and if inquests have not begun, they should.

In the meantime though, let us not forget the job that Antonio Conte and his men have done this season.

They have won the most games, they’ve been ruthlessly efficient, and they fully deserve their Premier League title.

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About the author

Seb Greenwood

CBS’s longest-serving contributor, Englishman Seb is our leading football correspondent, pulling no punches with his opinions on the Premier League and the international scene.

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