Hazard dazzles and Conte's tactical masterclass crown Chelsea champs

Chelsea are deserved champions and are now on for the Double. While the Blues prepare for Saturday's FA Cup final against Arsenal, here's a look back at a stunning debut campaign from Antonio Conte.

Rating out of 10: 10


In a season packed with fabulous memories, it is hard to narrow them down -- though the one genuine stand out moment was Eden Hazard's sensational solo goal in February's 3-1 win over Arsenal.

The match came four days after the Blues earned a 1-1 draw against Liverpool at Anfield, and at the time it was felt that a return of four points or more from those two fixtures would set Chelsea on course for the Premier League crown.

Eight minutes into the second half and with Chelsea leading 1-0, Hazard picked the ball up just inside his own half and proceeded to beat Laurent Koscielny twice, send Francis Coquelin sprawling on the turf and leave a host of other defenders trailing in his wake before coolly chipping the ball over Petr Cech.

It was a moment of exquisite genius and all but proved, in more ways than one, that Chelsea were a cut above the rest.

Low point

It barely needs repeating but the moment that Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez combined to put Arsenal into a 3-0 lead before half time at the Emirates in November was the undoubted nadir of Chelsea's campaign.

The Blues looked disheveled and disparate, almost as if they had never played together with every area of the team failing to function. It gave their fierce rivals a handsome win and the bragging rights to go with it, while leaving their visitors with just a single point from their previous three games. And yet it proved to be the turning point for Chelsea's season.

Conte switched to a back three after half time, and the rest is history. That Ozil goal might have been painful at the time but since then the only way has been up.

Star man

It could be any one of the first team regulars. David Luiz has been a revelation, Cesar Azpilicueta a rock and Pedro more like the player that sparkled for many years at Barcelona. But the one with pure magic in his boots and the one that has delivered at so many key moments of the season is Hazard.

There was the one-man demolition of Everton; the exceptional, if goalless, display as a False No.9 in the 3-0 win at Leicester; imperious performances at Southampton, Bournemouth and West Ham.

More importantly and impressively, he has delivered in the biggest games against the best opponents with goals against Manchester United, Manchester City (home and away) and in the FA Cup semifinal against Tottenham. The bigger the game, the better the performance.

Perhaps the most significant indication of how effective he has been is that both Jose Mourinho and Ronald Koeman elected to change their systems to man-mark him throughout the match. Such attention is afforded only to the most dangerous and influential of players.

N'Golo Kante was an understandable and deserving winner of the main Player of the Year accolades but nobody would have argued had Hazard been garlanded instead.


Oscar was probably the most disappointing of all the players to feature this season given he started in the team and this was a fresh start for him under a new manager. However, as he did leave for China for an eye-watering £60 million at midseason, it didn't work out too badly for Chelsea. That leaves Michy Batshuayi as the unfortunate fall guy.

The Belgian has done little wrong when he has been on the pitch. Indeed, he has three goals from just 207 Premier League minutes and scored the goal that crowned Chelsea as champions.

But having arrived for £33 million, much greater involvement was expected and it was telling he wasn't even considered for a start when Diego Costa was unavailable, his full Premier League debut only coming once the title had been won.

Transfer Talk

Much will depend on who leaves the club with rumours continuing to rumble over a potential departure for Costa. Even if he does stay, there will be a requirement for at least one more striker that Conte trusts, especially when factoring in the added demands of the Champions League. The thought of bringing Alexis Sanchez across London is particularly alluring as he could play anywhere across the front three while seriously riling Arsenal supporters in the process.

Competition for both wing-back positions is also necessary and it would be interesting to see what would happen if they put in a cheeky bid for Manchester United's talented but out-of-favour left-back Luke Shaw, a boyhood Chelsea supporter.

There has also been talk about reinforcing central defence and midfield though it would be good to see more faith being placed in young players already at the club.

Nathaniel Chalobah, Kurt Zouma, Nathan Ake, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Andreas Christensen, who is due to return from his two-year loan spell at Borussia Monchengladbach, all have the ability to feature regularly if they are afforded the room to make some mistakes while they develop.