This season, arguably the most competitive league in the world, the English Premier League (EPL) has welcomed some of the world's best tacticians in the dugout, Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola.
Just when football fans thought the season couldn't have started better, they were treated to an early box office thriller when Arsenal and Liverpool locked horns at the Emirates. It was a goal fest and football enthusiasts got their money's worth. Liverpool's summer signing of Sadio Mané showed why he was worth £34 million. He opened his Liverpool account with a tremendous solo effort goal that left the Emirates stunned. The Reds came out on top and won the game 4-3.
Following a wretched 2015/2016 season, Chelsea appointed Antonio Conte as their new head coach. The Italian came to Stamford Bridge after having led the Italian national team to the Quarter-Finals of EURO championships in France. Italy lost in the penalty shoot-out against Germany.
Antonio Conte came with pedigree after having been highly succesful with Juventus.
His first game for Chelsea was at home against West Ham United. Being known for playing 3-5-2 formation during his managerial career, Conte surprised everyone in England by playing a 4-1-4-1 formation against The Hammers. Although it paid dividends it was a hard fought victory against West Ham, thanks to a late goal by Diego Costa, the game finished 2-1 to Chelsea.
Josep "Pep" Guardiola, credited by some as the inventor of tiki-taka, was announced as the manager of Manchester City in February 2016. Guardiola has won a whooping 22 trophies in his seven-year managing career. He is a man who always believes in his philosophy of playing. He raised eyebrows when he announced to the media that England's number one goal keeper, Joe Hart would not be part of his plans because he needed a goalkeeper who is good on his feet and can help the team build and play from the back.
The Spaniard magician brought in Barcelona and Chile goalkeeper, Claudio Bravo to replace Joe Hart who went on loan to Torino in Italy's Serie A.
Pep got off to a good start when he beat Sunderland at Etihad Stadium in his first game as Man City manager. The Cityzens then went on a run of six games unbeaten and the bookmakers started tipping Man City to win the league.
On the 10th of September... it was the first time Pep faced José Mourinho in England. The two had their rivalry in Spain during their time in La Liga. One could say it was a street fighter rivalry. The two met for the first time at Old Trafford, Manchester United's turf. It was Pep who won the first battle by 2-1.
24 September... The birth of a new tactic in the Premier League. Arsenal welcomed Chelsea to Emirates, a London rivalry that has been fierce in seasons past. The Gunners haven't beaten Chelsea since 2011 coming into the game. It was the right moment to break the bad omen and send a statement to The Blues. Chelsea came into the game as favorites but found themselves 3-0 down at half time thanks to goals by Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Mesut Özil.
It was the birth of 3-4-3 formation for Chelsea. Antonio Conte reverted back to his orthodox formation of three at the back. The blues lost the game 3-0 but showed improvements in the second half of that encounter.
The Return... Chelsea hosted Manchester United at Stamford Bridge. The game saw the return of former Chelsea manager, José Mourinho to The Bridge. Manchester United went behind in less than a minute, no United player touched the ball when Pedro capitalized on a school boy error to give The Blues the lead. Things went from bad to worse as Man United were trailing 4-0 and Chelsea boss, Antonio Conte cheered the crowd to get behind the team and make the atmosphere raucous. After the game it was reported that Mourinho told Conte that, at 1-0 it's okay to cheer the crowd but at 4-0 it's a humiliation. It turned out it was a nightmare return to The Bridge for José.
Outfoxed.... Just when Leicester City and Jamie Vardy were written off, the unthinkable happened. Leicester City welcomed Manchester City to the King Power Stadium. Being the most dramatic league in the world, it lived up to the standard. Leicester sent shockwaves at Man City by scoring two goals inside five minutes when Jamie Vardy broke his goal drought to give the Foxes the lead, but it was Andy King who made sure the home side were comfortable when he scored an absolute pearler to leave City jaw dropped.
Vardy got his second before half time and his hat-trick after the interval. City pulled two late goals but it was a matter of too little too late as The Foxes won 4-2.
It was a moment of "history before your very eyes"
After Chelsea's 3-0 defeat to Arsenal in September, The Blues went on a historical club record of 13 games unbeaten.
Chelsea's Premier League games stats: October 100% win, November 100% win, December 100% win. Antonio Conte won two manager of the month awards for October and November.
In November Chelsea won a hat-trick of individual awards, Antonio Conte - Manager of the month, Diego Costa - Player of the month and Pedro Rodriguez - Goal of the month. On the 4th of January 2017, Chelsea faced Tottenham Hotspurs lolling to make it 14 games unbeaten but The Lilly Whites made sure Chelsea's record of winning 14 games running is only a dream. Dele Alli's brace was enough to end The Blues' run of 13 games unbeaten.
The league now has: José Mourinho, Mauricio Pochettino, Arsene Wenger, Jürgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola and Antonio Conte, Best managers in the world all in one kraal, but only one can rule the bull ring come end of the season.
After looking at the Premier League January fixtures for the top 6, it's going to be a roller coaster. Whoever comes out of the month leading the pack, might win the league. Next Sunday, MAN UNITED is hosting LIVERPOOL, then later in the month on the 21st, SPURS goes to MAN CITY and month end on the 31st, LIVERPOOL welcomes CHELSEA. So it's going to be a huge month for the top 6.
Arsenal have a so called easy month playing bottom teams until they meet Chelsea on 4 February at Stamford Bridge.
Champions League spot...
The Premier League Top 6 looks terrific, teams with great pedigree BUT only two will miss out on the UEFA Champions League next season, the burning question is, who will be the two?
The Premier League title war is far from over, it's going to be the survival of the fittest.
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