Analysis

Five key games that helped Chelsea win the title in 2016/17

To mark the third anniversary of our most recent Premier League triumph, we revisit some of the matches that went a long way to helping us secure the title that season.

Our Premier League triumph in 2016/17 was arguably the least expected of the six English championships we have won, and there were a number of pivotal moments and matches that made such a difference. On the anniversary of that wonderful night at West Brom, we outline them here with the help of highlights to help bring those memories flooding back...
 

West Ham (h) - 15 August 2016

The opening-day win over the Hammers may have come before the players were shaped into the side that became so successful, but it was imperative to start the season positively, particularly after such a disappointing previous campaign. 

We were the better team on the night but, after Eden Hazard had given us the lead from the penalty spot early in the second half, the visitors equalised with their first attempt on goal. 

Antonio Conte, though, taking charge of his first Chelsea match, wasn’t about to settle for a draw. Pedro, Victor Moses and Michy Batshuayi were all introduced for the closing stages, and it was a header from the Belgian forward which set up Diego Costa to fire home a dramatic 89th-minute winner and spark wild celebrations.

Hull (a) - 1 October 2016

Undoubtedly the turning point of our season. Following consecutive league defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal, Conte implemented the 3-4-3 formation which went on to serve us so well. 

Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz and Gary Cahill started as the three-man defensive unit, with Moses and Marcos Alonso, who was making his first start, deployed as the wing-backs. 

It was a tense first half as the team tried to get to grips with the new shape, but after the break we began to offer more in an attacking sense. Willian opened the scoring just after the hour with a stunning strike, and it was quickly followed by another goal of similar quality, scored by Diego Costa. It would prove to be the start of a 13-game winning sequence in the Premier League.

Man City (a) - 3 December 2016

We travelled to the Etihad having won seven league games in a row, including coming from behind to beat Tottenham the previous week. This game, however, was seen as our biggest test of the season up until that point, and it was one we would pass in thrilling fashion. 

City, who dominated the first half and led at the break through a Cahill own-goal, passed up three great opportunities to extend their lead early in the second half, and they were made to pay when Diego Costa scored a brilliant equaliser after being picked out by Cesc Fabregas, starting in place of the injured Nemanja Matic. 

A clinical counter-attack, finished off by substitute Willian, turned the game on its head, before Hazard raced clear to add a late third. Further drama followed as Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho were sent off in added time as tempers boiled over, but the Blues had secured a huge victory, sending out a real statement of intent in the process. 

Man City (h) - 5 April 2017

Matches against direct rivals are always of huge significance when challenging for the title, but the fact we had been beaten at home by Crystal Palace – and had our lead at the top of the table reduced to seven points – the previous weekend, meant bouncing back against Pep Guardiola’s side was of paramount importance. 

We got off to the perfect start when Hazard fired us into an early lead, but the visitors quickly restored parity through Aguero. Hazard was the outstanding performer on the night and the Belgian scored what proved to be the decisive goal 10 minutes before the break, tapping home the rebound after his penalty had been saved. 

The introduction of Nemanja Matic, who replaced Kurt Zouma, at half-time ensured City were unable to exert so much control in the midfield area in the second half, although Vincent Komany and John Stones both went close to equalising. 

However, a combination of desire and resilience allowed the Blues to come out on top, and it was the perfect response to the setback against Palace.

QUIZ: Can you name all our Premier League winners?

Everton (a) - 30 April 2017

With just four points separating ourselves and second-placed Tottenham, the game at Goodison Park took on even greater importance. 

Many pundits believed the fixture represented our toughest challenge during the run-in, and it looked that way during a very even first half, although both Hazard and Diego Costa had decent opportunities to give us the lead. 

The breakthrough eventually arrived midway through the second half courtesy of Pedro, whose brilliant left-footed strike from distance flew into the top corner. Cahill doubled our lead soon after before two substitutes, Cesc Fabregas and Willian, combined to wrap the game up. 

The celebrations at the final whistle told their own story. We were edging ever closer.

You can watch back the full story of the 2016/17 season in Premier League Years on the 5th Stand App...

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