What will Chelsea achieve under Antonio Conte?

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He’s found success basically everywhere he’s been, but Antonio Conte is set to embark upon a new adventure this season in England as he gets set to revamp Chelsea.

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All of Conte’s previous successes have come in Italy, both with the national team and at the club level, but now, the 47-year-old will now have to show that his creative mind is ready to compete with the rest of the big managers in England’s top flight.

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While the biggest criticism of Conte this summer was not addressing the backline, the few signings that he and the Blues have made should be game changers. The additions of N'Golo Kante and Michy Batshuayi give Chelsea another dimension in the midfield and attacking third, respectively, while complimenting the current crop of players already afforded to the new Italian manager.

Those signings do give the Blues a much-needed boost after last campaign’s struggles, however, the London side isn’t the only one to have made a significant overhaul this summer. Manchester City and Manchester United were the biggest spenders in the transfer market, leaving Conte a bit more responsible for maneuvering around his current squad.

With talented attacking players such as Eden Hazard, Willian and Diego Costa already guaranteed starting positions because of successful track records, the inclusion of Kante from the start and likely Batshuayi off the bench provides the Blues with a good combination of talent and depth.

Willian, in particular, is coming off of a very impressive campaign for the Blues, and will likely continue to play a major factor in the team’s attack due to his superb technical abilities, as well as his innate sense of finding the back of the net from both open play and set piece situations.

ANN ARBOR, MI - JULY 30:  Willian #22 of Chelsea defends against Marcelo Vieira Da Silva #12 of Real Madrid during the first half at Michigan Stadium on July 30, 2016 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Defensively is where things become a bit eery though for the Blues.

Veteran centerback John Terry will hold down things on the backline, while likely being paired with either Gary Cahill or Kurt Zouma, once the latter resumes full health following a devastating knee injury from a season ago.

The good news for Conte is that he has been provided with several promising young options in the central defense, which starts with Zouma. From there, the squad also features Jake Clarke-Salter, Michael Hector and U.S. defender Matt Miazga, although it’s likely none will feature regularly unless the team is hit with injuries.

However, the team doesn’t have the luxury of having as many options at the outside back position, which could cause problems for the backline. Branislav Ivanovic will likely get the nod at right back, while Cezar Azpilicueta is projected to provide help on the opposite side. After those two players, though, the Blues don’t feature many choices. Kenedy provided a solid spark both offensively and on the defensive end last season, however, the Brazilian youngster is still too raw as a defender to throw him out against England’s best.

Meanwhile, English youngster Ola Aina has shown well during the team’s preseason run in, but the Under-21 defender needs more experience of his own before getting a consistent first-team go.

Despite being known for being one of the few managers at a top club to utilize the 3-5-2 and 3-4-3 formations, Conte will likely have to stick to a more traditional 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 given Chelsea’s current personnel.

The current squad of players that Conte has at his disposal gives Chelsea an undoubted chance to be considered among the favorites to win the Premier League in 2016/17. With about six other clubs in the mix though for the title, though, the Italian has his work cut out for him in managing the team over the long season.

While Champions League football is something the Blues will be looking to get back to for next season, Conte does at least have the luxury of going all out for the PL and FA Cup, while other teams have to deal with the riggers of European competition on top of their domestic obligation.

What we love about Tottenham

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This week at ProSoccerTalk we will be detailing what we love about each Premier League club competing in the 2019-20 season and next up is Tottenham.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Each day we will release details on why who adore each team in particular as we remind ourselves just how awesome the PL is as we await its return following the suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Time to take a closer look at Spurs.


Harry Kane: Since emerging in the first-team scene under Mauricio Pochettino during the 2014-15 campaign, Harry Kane has skyrocketed in Tottenham’s list of greats. The Spurs youth product hit the ground running under the Argentine, finishing as the club’s leading goalscorer of the aforementioned season, and becoming an instant fan favorite.

Kane – who is currently recovering from a left hamstring injury – didn’t stop there; he made sure he was far removed from being a one-hit wonder. As a result, the 26-year-old has lead Spurs in scoring for five straight seasons, placing him third in Tottenham’s all-time goalscoring list. Outside of Jermaine Defoe, no other player in Spurs’ modern day history has had such impact on the offensive side of the game. 

Jose Mourinho: Wherever Jose Mourinho goes, the lights and cameras follow. That reality is no different at Tottenham, as the storied Portuguese manager has brought all of his pros and cons with him to Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium.

After runs with Chelsea and Manchester United, one might have thought that his and Spurs’ paths would never cross, but in November 2019, after Mauricio Pochettino’s sacking, Mourinho became the boss at Tottenham. Life thus far at the helm of the north London side hasn’t been ideal for him, crashing out of Champions League play and sitting eighth on the table. But a manager of Mourinho’s stature is definitely not worth crossing off – whether he’d be at Chelsea, Manchester United ⬇️or Spurs.

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium: In addition to having a proven goalscorer and manager in their ranks, Tottenham have the privilege of playing home games in England’s newest and most technologically advanced football stadium: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The 62,000-capacity state-of-the-art stadium features a retractable field, a microbrewery, an in-house bakery, heated seats with USB ports, the longest bar in the UK among others unimaginable extras for a sports venue. The stadium opened in April 2019, and replaced the legendary White Hart Lane.

What we love about Watford

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This week at ProSoccerTalk we will be detailing what we love about each Premier League club competing in the 2019-20 season and next up is Watford.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Each day we will release details on why who adore each team in particular as we remind ourselves just how awesome the PL is as we await its return following the suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Time to take a closer look at the Hornets.


Troy Deeney: Troy Deeney is – and has been – the face of Watford since his move from Walsall in 2010. A move that came about after Deeney, a Birmingham native and Birmingham City supporter growing up, submitted a written transfer request to exit a then-League One side to make his way to the Championship. His first year at Vicarage, however, was rough. The striker managed to score only two goals in 36 league appearances, raising questions about whether or not Deeney was built survive outside England’s third division.

Since that trying first year with the Hornets, Deeney hasn’t looked back, making his way into the “Watford’s best players ever” conversation with a remarkable 129 goals in 388 appearances. Only club legends Luther Blissett – considered by many as the best Hornet ever – and John Barnes have more top-flight gals than Deeney himself. 

Historical, last-gasp win against Leicester City: May 2013, Vicarage Road. Leicester City’s Anthony Knockaert goes down in the box after minimal contact with a Watford defender. A penalty is called in the visitor’s favor. The aggregate stands at 2-2 as the clocks ticks the final seconds of a two-legged Championship play-off semifinal between the Hornets and the Foxes. Knockaert’s shot from the spot – directed right down the middle, with pace – is blocked. His second chance as well. Watford recover and immediately go back the other way.

 

Only seconds remain before the head official sends the match to penalty kicks, but Watford is looking for the final blow. Fernando Forestieri desperately sends a textbook cross inside the box. Jonathan Hogg meets the ball midair and heads it into an incoming Deeney, who seals a goal – and celebration – for the ages.

The Watford-Elton John connection: While Manchester City may have Oasis brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher rooting them on, Watford count on the support of multi-generational musician Elton John. A lifelong Hornet supporter, the English rock legend has done more than just “support” the club from the stands, though. 

In 1976, Elton John became Watford’s chairman and director. He eventually sold the club in 1987 before re-purchasing it a decade later from Jack Petchey. John no longer owns his childhood team, but he remains a part of the club as the honorary life-president.

Premier League Rivalries: North London derby

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One of England’s longest-running and most competitive encounters, the North London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal makes for one of greatest rivalries in Premier League.

The matchup dates back to the early 20th century and has added tons of thrilling chapters to its book of history. Since the start of the Premier League era, both clubs are constantly competing not only to outdo one another but to make a name for themselves at the top echelons of European football.

The North London derby is much more than two rivals facing off for 90 minutes, it’s the dichotomy between the two ways of living in modern-day north London.

Pro Soccer Talk’s Joe Prince-Wright dives into the derbies origin, its development and its actual reality.

The 2 Robbies Podcast: Adapting to life without football

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Robbie Earle & Robbie Mustoe touch base on how their each adapting to day-to-day life without any professional football action worldwide amid the coronavirus pandemic (0:40), how the game moves forward from here (4:50) and what certain players, coaches and teams have done to help out amid trying times (14:00). Plus, discussion on what they’ve been doing to stay active and healthy while living safely in isolation (23:00).

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To listen to more lively conversations and passionate debate from Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe, subscribe to The 2 Robbies Podcast on Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

And you can follow them on Twitter @The2RobbiesNBC here.

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]