Chelsea sealed their sixth league title on Friday evening, and here, takefootball rate the men who made Antonio Conte’s debut season in England so successful.
As much as the Blues have been in control of the title race for much of the season, it was only when Tottenham Hotspur fell to a 1-0 defeat at West Ham United last Friday did they get one hand on the trophy. Back-to-back wins against Middlesbrough and at West Bromwich Albion ended the race, and Conte will end his debut season in England as a Premier League winner.
Here, we rate the players who made this possible (minimum 10 matches).
Thibaut Courtois – 8 (out of 10)
The Belgian international goalkeeper has played in all but one of Chelsea’s Premier League matches to date, with the 2-0 defeat at Manchester United his only miss. He has no doubt been helped by the protection in front of him, but largely reliable when called into action.
Cesar Azpilicueta – 9
The former Marseille man has been one of the most consistent performers in the Premier League this season, and an ever-present for the champions. His ability to slot into Conte’s back three has been important, and he now looks an outstanding bargain at £7million nearly five years ago.
Gary Cahill – 9
For many years John Terry has been integral to the Blues back four, but this was perhaps the season when Cahill finally stepped out of his shadows. Now the bedrock in the heart of the defence and another ever-present, he has also chipped in with six goals for the cause.
David Luiz – 9
Is this the same erratic defender who cost Chelsea £25million back in January 2011? Luiz appears to have rid himself of such carelessness since his return to the capital, as a result of his spell at Paris Saint Germain or Conte’s influence, and he is now so much more mature.
Marcos Alonso – 9
Alonso didn’t exactly set pulses racing when he joined the Blues from Fiorentina in the summer, with memories of a less than spectacular spell at Bolton Wanderers still fresh in the mind. But with six goals and five assists to his name, he has been a valuable outlet from wing-back.
Victor Moses – 7
Few expected Moses to be included so often as he has this season, or even to have much of a future at the club, but he has excelled in his new wing-back position and featured 33 times. Despite this, there is still a feeling he hasn’t quite won over everyone at Stamford Bridge just yet.
N’Golo Kante – 9
Following his excellent debut season in England with Leicester City last season, the France international has slotted into the Blues midfield as if he has played there all his life. Now a back-to-back Premier League title winner, and a PFA Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year.
Nemanja Matic – 7
Hard to believe the Serbian international was so poor last season, following an excellent campaign with Chelsea’s previous title-winning side. Has looked much more like his usual self this time round, although it is fair to say he has fallen behind Kante in the importance to the starting XI.
Cesc Fabregas – 8
As talented as Conte’s squad undoubtedly is, it is always surprising when a player with Fabregas’ quality is left out of the side. But even the Spaniard has struggled to nail down a regular start this season, he has still scored four times and assisted 11 goals for a Premier League total of 106.
Willian – 7
Another player who has found it difficult to cement a regular place in Conte’s starting XI, the Brazilian has been used off the bench more often than not. He has still been productive with seven goals, but he is likely to be the subject of rival interest when the transfer window opens.
Hazard – 9
Similar to Matic, it is hard to believe this is the same player who floundered so badly last season. This time round he has been almost back to his scintillating best with 15 goals, and he can feel slightly unfortunate to have missed out to Kante in both player awards.
Pedro – 8
After a fairly unspectacular debut season in England, the energetic forward has more than proved his worth this term. With eight assists and the same number of goals, the former Barcelona star has now become an increasingly important component of Conte’s options.
Diego Costa – 8
Costa has returned 20 goals to his name so has unquestionably been a key part of Chelsea’s title success. But his campaign has been blighted somewhat by his flirtation with a mega-rich move to China in January, after which he has only scored five of his total haul.
Michy Batshuayi – 6
He may have scored the goal which ultimately clinched the league title for Chelsea, but Batshuayi has endured a frustrating debut season in England. The Belgian international, who cost over £30million in the summer, has played just 18 times and may well move on again in the coming weeks.