Thibaut Courtois: Chelsea thought they could 'take it easy' last season
Thibaut Courtois has revealed Chelsea thought the defence of their Premier League title last season would be easy only for the Blues to endure a nightmare campaign.
Chelsea ended the 2014-15 season eight points clear of Manchester City at the summit of the table to claim their fifth top-flight title.
That comfortable cushion lulled the Blues squad into a false sense of security, Courtois told the Le Grand Debrief radio show, and resulted in them finishing 10th last season -- a massive 31 points adrift of champions Leicester City.
"Last season, we started a little bit too relaxed," Courtois said. "We thought, 'Last season we were champions easily, this year we can take it easy.' We dropped points in the Premier League, we started to lose, and we couldn't get out of that. There was a bit of a negative atmosphere, which meant things didn't go well."
Courtois acknowledged that a wholesale change of attitude amongst the squad and the arrival of coach Antonio Conte and his new ideas have reversed fortunes.
"This year, with rivals like Liverpool and especially Arsenal, the players said to themselves, 'Boys, we don't want to have the same season as last year, we have to give more.' There was also the change in the system," Courtois said.
"The two things together mean we are really hungry and want to be there at the top. I think the big difference is that we're winning the matches against our rivals for the title, and the other teams like Manchester City and Liverpool are dropping points."
That was the case last weekend as Chelsea watched City draw with Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool lose to Swansea City and Manchester United draw with Stoke City. Only Arsenal managed to emerge from their game with three points thanks to a late Alexis Sanchez penalty to beat Burnley, before Chelsea rounded off the weekend with a 2-0 victory over Hull City.
"It wasn't easy, but we knew that we had to win [against Hull] as the other teams had dropped points, except Arsenal saved the three points right at the end, but we had to win," Courtois said. "Perhaps there was too much pressure as we wanted to win so much, we didn't play all that well, but we beat Hull -- a well-organised side who had chances. In the end, it's a good three points."
Eden Hazard was amongst the Chelsea players who struggled to perform against Hull, Courtois said, but the goalkeeper is confident his fellow Belgian will be back to his best at Liverpool next Tuesday.
"He wasn't at his best yesterday, but Eden is a normal man, he can't always be fantastic," Courtois said. "This year, he's already earned us a lot of points. I hope that against Liverpool next week, we'll see the best Eden again."
Ian is ESPN's French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman