The previous Premier league campaign highlighted the fact that practically any team can be competitive in this league and finish from first to 20th place. West Ham pulled of an amazing season, while Tottenham fought for the title until the final stages as well. Let’s not forget Leicester City’s fairy tale win as well. But this statement also has a flipside, as then-defending champions Chelsea finished tenth, their worst league finish in last two decades.
These two teams will play the last game of the opening fixture on Monday, August 15th. While this is not the top game of the opening day, it will be interesting to see how these two sides will cope against each other. Last time these two sides met at Stamford Bridge, it ended in a 2-2 draw. Fabregas equalized in the 89th minute, and prevented what would have been West Ham’s first victory at Stamford Bridge since 2002. In the other game last season, West Ham won 2-1.
Chelsea will look to forget the 2015/2016 as soon as possible and continue to fight for major trophies this season. Third manager in one year will be former Juventus and Italy manager Antonio Conte, who took over from caretaker Gus Hiddink. Conte brought in several changes and N’Golo Kante and Michy Batshuayi arrived for 32 million pounds each from Leicester City and Marseille. Conte is a visionary and a tactician, which might see a similar campaign to that when Carlo Ancelotti was in charge. Chelsea had a busy pre-season schedule and played seven games, winning five of them. Without European competitions, Chelsea will focus on the Premier league and serve as one of the favorites to win it.
West Ham United look like a new-born team under Croatian mastermind Slaven Bilić, who turned the some West Ham players into top-class players, most notably Dmitri Payet and Antonio, which pulled off an amazing season. West Ham finished sixth at the end, but won the hearts of neutral fans with some great performances against bigger clubs, like Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and others. There were not a lot of changes (so far) in the transfer window, but West Ham managed to keep hold of their major assets and enter new season in full strength. West Ham United will aim to repeat the season, but anything bigger than this is very much possible.
As far as history is concerned, Chelsea counts as the most successful team in the history of Premier league, when it comes to opening matches. Chelsea won fourteen of the last 17 opening matches and are unbeaten in the last 13 at home turf, while West Ham holds the record with Spurs of losing most opening matches. These two sides met on one occasion in the opening match – Chelsea won in 2000/2001 season 4-2 on Stamford Bridge.
There was a lot to like about Conte in the Euro 2016 tournament and 1.65 odds at 888Sport are worth taking for Chelsea to start with a win.