Chelsea boss Conte expects six-team Premier League title race

Paul Merson Arsenal Leicester

Arsenal are set to kick-start their EPL campaign against Leicester City on Friday, August 11 while on the other hand, Chelsea are set to begin their title defence against Burnley on Saturday, August 12.

The last team to retain the Premier League was United in 2009 and Chelsea, which wasn't in European competition last season, now has the Champions League clogging up the schedule.

No wonder the Italian coach cuts a frustrated figure heading into the start of Chelsea's Premier League title defense.

The English Premier League kicks off again this weekend. The lack of a credible plan B will hurt the teams chances when the going will get tough towards the end of the season. I visited them a couple of times past year, to check how they are doing. It depends on the club, whether they follow him or not.

The west London side are also expected to sell Spain worldwide Diego Costa after Conte told the 28-year-old that he is free to leave.

Across the last six times these teams have come toe-to-toe, both at Stamford Bridge and Turf Moor, it is a similar story of Chelsea's dominance.

"Spending money doesn't guarantee it, but Man City weren't that far away last season and right now they're the team to beat".

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Out of respect they came and did that, and we would like to think because of the answer they got they would respect our position'. It has frustrated a lot of people but I don't anticpate we will have any last minute problems.

I expect Chelsea to play Conte's favourite formation the 3-4-3 with Thibaut Courtois in goal, Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta as the back 3, Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses as the wing backs with Bakayoko and Kante in central midfield, finally, they will have Hazard, Morata and Pedro up top.

And some believe Morata may not be suited to the rough-and-tumble of the Premier League following a poor debut against Arsenal in last Sunday's Community Shield final.

The start of the Premier League season means one thing for many football fans - the return of betting. With Matic arriving, Paul Pogba could have a freer role which lets him express better than he did last season. Endure a trophy-less season and he joins Carlo Ancelotti and Mourinho as Chelsea managers sacked a season after winning the league.

He said: "I still think it should be the league position".

"I'm totally convinced that this season will be even better for him, and that playing in the Champions League against the best teams and players will take some pressure off him, because in the Europa League, he was obviously one of the two or three biggest stars".

And when asked this week whether it would difficult to hold onto their crown without more signings, he said: "Yes very hard".

Many Chelsea fans believe the younger and more physical Bakayoko to be an upgrade on 29-year-old Matic, but Conte has concerns given that the French worldwide arrived injured and will still need time to reach full fitness and properly settle into his new surroundings. I know they've lost a couple of important players but they've also added, and I think they'll add more by the time the window closes.

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