Michy Batshuayi, the forgotten man of Chelsea Football etched his name into history as his late goal won the Premiership title for the Blues for the 5th time and their sixth title in all as Chelsea beat West Brom 1-0 at the Hawthorns.
The 23 year old strikers combined minutes on the pitch this season are under 600 minutes so his goals in this time read well. Six games 5 goals but he’s hardly had a look in and his 33 million pound price tag looked excessive to say the least. He has become an overnight legend however as his 82nd minute goal proved to be the only one of the game.
Chelsea needed a win to seal the title and the striker was given a rare few minutes on the pitch by Conte and it proved to be the perfect move by Conte and was enough to give Chelsea the victory they required to secure the title.
It looked as though Antonio Conte’s side might be forced to delay their celebrations as they were frustrated for long periods by the resilience and organisation of Tony Pulis’s men but they were not to be denied.
The title was won with the clock ticking down and with just eight minutes left as substitute Batshuayi ended a scrappy passage of play by steering a finish high past Ben Foster.
The final whistle sparked huge celebrations among Chelsea’s fans, and manager Antonio Conte was chucked high into the air by his squad.
Conte can now focus his attention on winning the league and domestic Double as the Blues prepare for an FA Cup final against Arsenal at Wembley on 27 May.
Chelsea’s celebrations were fully deserved – the culmination of a superb season’s work by Conte and his squad. They dominated this game with over 60% of possession and scored with their 24th attempt at goal, the host in return managed just seven. But with Pulis at the helm they are a solid bunch. West Brom demonstrated all the qualities that have made this such a satisfactory season for them but, as so often, Chelsea got the job done.
The Blues’ main attacking threats struggled to find a spark, with Eden Hazard’s frustration summed up with one long-range shot that went out for a corner, but Conte’s side found a way to win, illustrating once again why they are worthy champions.
The losses at home to Liverpool and at Arsenal in September that hinted at early struggles seemed an age away, as did the surprise defeat by struggling Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge, and the setback at Manchester United. Those four defeats apart they were worthy Champions and can look forward to being back in the Champions League next season.
Chelsea, even when not at their best, proved themselves the strongest and most complete side in the Premier League and they proved it again on a night they were tested.
Conte’s touch is all over this title triumph, a great club manager who did not look relaxed as the Italian manager last year before his surprise move to Chelsea. His sublime touch was on show again to fashion the victory they needed to get over the line with two games to spare.
The Italian knew his side needed a catalyst to break down West Brom, and it came with the introduction of Batshuayi and Willian for an ineffective Hazard and Pedro with 15 minutes left.
Conte’s masterstroke should have come as no surprise given the manner in which he has marshalled his forces, particularly the crucial switch to a three-man defence in September that turned Chelsea’s season around and started a run of 13 straight league wins that led to the title. Yes Spurs have looked great and their time will surely come with a fabulous manager and a superb young team that can only get better.
No praise is too high for the 47-year-old Conte though, who took over a squad that looked broken after ending last season in 10th place and with the shadow of Jose Mourinho’s sacking still hanging over the club. Costa and Hazard were woeful, the defence looked shaky and the confidence was on the floor.
Cesc Fabregas was chosen ahead of N’Golo Kante in Chelsea’s midfield and once again put in an impressive performance, making a game high seven key passes. Chelsea must somehow hold onto him. Diego Costa is like a bull now and a fantastic player. Luiz is transformed in the new back three, Victor Moses has been a revelation in the wing back position and Gary Cahill has taken over John Terry’s mantle as Mr Solid. Alonso has upped his game to extraordinary levels and Hazard is back to the form of old, i.e. brilliance.
Chelsea are the first club to win the English top-flight title on a Friday since Arsenal at Anfield in 1989 on that unbelievable evening at Anfield.
How about this for an unusual statistic, a Belgian player has scored the title-deciding goal in each of the past three Premier League seasons (Batshuayi v West Brom in 2016-17, Eden Hazard v Tottenham in 2015-16 and v Crystal Palace in 2014-15).
Chelsea still have two games to play before the season is out. Firstly it’s Watford on Monday before receiving the trophy in their final game against relegated Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, 21 May in what could be a goal feast for the champions.
The Blues are the Champions and deservedly so. Well done Chelsea.