Title Defence - The Key Fixtures For 17/18 Campaign

Matt Debono

There are a few fixtures next season which will define spells in which the club will have, and ultimately what trophies they will be challenging for. 
Burnley (H)

With having the first game of the new season at home, it is extremely important for the morale of the players and fans to get a win on the first day. For the past nineteen (19) seasons, Chelsea have remained undefeated in their first league encounter and will be looking to continue that record on for another year. By playing an 'easier' side, even though anyone can win on their day, it allows Chelsea to ease into the season with less pressure on them, as they will be expected to win this comfortably. This game will show us glimpses on what has happened in pre-season, as seen a few years back in Mourinho's second spell, we didn't win any of our pre season games in normal time, and the form continued into the league, where he was ultimately dismissed from the managerial position.

Tottenham Hotspur (A)

Although last season we didn't get off to the best of starts, this season it is vital. All the clubs which surround Chelsea in the table have and will continue to strengthen their squads next term. With playing such a critical fixture within the first five games, it will allow both clubs the opportunity to put a real marker down in the title race. With Spurs at their new home next season, Wembley, it could be a season of inconsistency for them. Chelsea have the chance to exploit a team who struggles so much with Wembley, and how it plays. The Blues have a track record at the national stadium, and if we come out with a win, it allows us to gain momentum so early on, especially with the opening fixtures in which we have been tasked with. Taking points off those around us is crucial, especially with the league going to be even more competitive next campaign.

Manchester United (H)

Last season Chelsea put first blood on the rivalry against the Red Devils, which was renewed, after Mourinho came back to the Bridge for the first time since his departure. Knocking them out of the quarter-final of the FA Cup hurt them as well, which Chelsea finally losing in the final, with a very poor performance, against London rivals Arsenal. With United coming to London first, they will be hungrier than ever to pick up three points this time round. With the league going to be closer than ever, it will be a very tactical affair. The Red Devils did it back in April, and came out winners. Conte has to plan for these types of games, he won't and can't afford to be exploited like he was back in April.

Huddersfield Town (A)

With the Terriers getting promoted to the top flight at the end of last season, it brings a new challenge for The Blues, who will face Town for the first time in nine years. Going into slightly unknown territory, it will allow the newly promoted side to thrive and play with no pressure throughout the game, and all season. With the fixture, set to be a midweek clash, and in the run in for the holiday period, it will be a crucial game for Chelsea. Every year you want momentum going into this time, with games coming thick and fast, every point matters. There's no time to rest, and by winning games earlier on in December, it will allow momentum to carry them through towards the latter end of the month. With the match under the floodlights, Chelsea will be put under pressure, and that's where the game changers will need to produce special moments as chances won't come available often.

Manchester United and Manchester City (A)

With the pair of these games currently calendared in to be played back to back, Chelsea will need huge character, particularly if they drop points in the first of the two clashes. With both of the Manchester clubs most likely to be in and around the Champions League places, it will be essential that the current champions take points away from both. Taking points away from home, to clubs like these two, will give them a massive confidence boost, going into the final ten or so remaining fixtures. Last season, Chelsea had momentum going into the game at the Etihad, and with a slice of luck we came out on top. This year it will be different. The quality in which both sides will have from additions, will pounce at any mistake made. Chelsea have to stay resilient, the big characters have to step up, as once one defeat hits, the others can come very quickly.

Swansea City (A)

With Chelsea set to head to South Wales with three games remaining, it is a crucial period for the club, with it being the business end of the season. Chelsea should be in the mix for title at this stage if nothing it wrapped up already, and Swansea are most likely going to be in a relegation battle; especially if their main man Gylfi Sigurdsson leaves the club. With both teams needing the points at this time of the season, it won't be an easy task for Chelsea. If the Blues keep on winning and putting pressure on those around them, someone is bound to slip up. With Chelsea potentially being in the Champions League at this time as well, it could stretch the squad. It is crucial we buy well in the summer and we have cover in all roles, as the whole squad need to be ready at any moment in which they are needed, especially in season defining fixtures.