Antonio Conte was the manager on everybody’s lips last season as he won the Premier League title with Chelsea in his first season in English football. Conte famously took just a couple of days off after Italy’s Euro 2016 campaign before starting work at Chelsea and he was back at work nice and early this summer as he made plans for the new season. Unfortunately, the summer was far from an unqualified success for the Italian. A supposed lack of support from the board and the falling out with Diego Costa gave rise to feelings that all was not well behind the scenes at Chelsea. Now, that ill feeling has spread to the pitch as Chelsea are nine points off the top of Premier League after just eight games. Some believe that means Conte should make the bold call to prioritise the Champions League over Chelsea’s domestic campaign. The Blues have won both their games in Group C (including a hugely impressive win against Atletico Madrid away from home) and are the favourites to make it three from three when Roma visit Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.
West Ham and Brighton were in the Championship the last time that they met back in April 2012. Despite having their automatic promotion hopes effectively ended the week before, the Irons put the Seagulls to the sword with a 6-0 win that gave them much vital momentum ahead of their successful run through the playoffs.
These are very interesting times in the Premier League. The top clubs in the league have recently been trying to push through a redistribution of the huge sums of money from foreign television rights which makes competing at the top flight even more important than it’s ever been. Football League clubs are spending increasing amounts to try and get into the Premier League while those already in the promised land must come out with ways to remain competitive and improve over time.
Brighton and Everton meet for the first in well over 30 years on Sunday. The Seagulls have come back of going out of business in the time that’s past but they’re in better shape than ever right now and gunning for a big scalp at the Amex Stadium. You couldn’t describe Everton as being anywhere near good shape. Ronald Koeman was given the dreaded vote of confidence by the club’s board after a poor start to the season and you get the feeling the Dutchman is just one more bad result away from losing his job. Could that defeat come down on the South Coast?
The Premier League returns with a bang after the international break. Liverpool versus Manchester United is one of the English football’s biggest fixtures and this Saturday’s edition could be an absolute classic.