West Bromwich (England), May 13 (IANS) Capital football club Chelsea grabbed their second English Premier League (EPL) title in three seasons with a 1-0 victory here over West Bromwich Albion as they took an unassailable 10-point lead over second-placed Tottenham Hotspur.
Chelsea, who started Friday’s contest with 84 points from 35 matches, needed to win just one of their final three games to assure themselves of their fifth league title. Substitute striker Michy Batshuayi’s 82nd-minute goal gave Chelsea a 1-0 win over West Bromwich, reports Efe.
Tottenham have only three matches available to them and the maximum points they can accumulate are 86 — one less than Chelsea’s current points tally of 87 with two games to go.
It culminates a remarkable comeback from Chelsea, who floundered in the last EPL season 2015-16 to finish 10th after winning the 2014-15 title under Jose Mourinho. But Italian tactician Antonio Conte revived the London club as the coach came with a 3-4-3 formation with success.
Their Friday’s opposition West Bromwich, even though on track to equal their highest finish of eighth place in the EPL, couldn’t stop Conte’s men.
Chelsea started the match positively and moved freely in the West Bromwich end, but failed to trouble home goalkeeper Ben Foster in the early going.
The hosts, meanwhile, remained true to their defence-first style while remaining alert for a chance on the counter.
When the match clock passed 80 minutes with the score at 0-0, it began to look as if Chelsea would have to wait for next Monday’s home tie with Watford to seal the championship.
But Belgian Batshuayi had other ideas, scoring in the 82nd minute off a cross from Cesar Azpilicueta.
The Chelsea squad and the travelling fans — some having paid up to 1,800 pounds ($2,319) for their tickets — erupted in celebration.
Conte becomes the fourth coach to win the EPL in his first season in the English top-flight, joining his predecessors Jose Mourinho (2004-2005) and Carlo Ancelotti (2009-2010) and Mauricio Pellegrini, who guided Manchester City to a first place finish in 2013-2014.
“Our season didn’t start in the right way, we had many problems, not only one. To find the right solution quickly wasn’t easy and for this, I want to say thanks to my players because they trust in a new work and new philosophy. This result is for the attitude and behaviour of my players,” Conte said, as reported by Chelsea’s website.
“I want to say thanks to our fans because they pushed a lot in every game, home and away. They deserve this.”
Conte acknowledged that changing the formation from 4-2-3-1 to 3-4-3 after two consecutive losses to Liverpool (1-2) and Arsenal (0-3) in September was the turning point for his side.
“The Arsenal game was frustrating for me because I didn’t see anything of my work and my idea of football. I found the strength to change, to take responsibility to change systems and find a new fit for the players,” he said.
“It was the key moment for us because every single player found in the system their best.”