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Football Whispers

Conte's last stand, trophy-hunter Mourinho on prowl

FA Cup
ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Chelsea: A tale of two seasons

In 2015-16, Chelsea finished 10th in one of the worst title defences in modern memory. One year later, they are champions. Here is how the Blues' remarkable return to the top of the Premier League played out.


Eva Carneiro was the target of Mourinho's ire.

Aug. 8: Having won the title for the first time since 2010, losing just three times in 2014-15, Chelsea's first game of the new season against Swansea saw manager Jose Mourinho criticise Chelsea first-team doctor Eva Carneiro and physiotherapist Jon Fearn for naivety in running on to the field to treat Eden Hazard. Mourinho is later cleared by the Football Association of abusing Carneiro.

Aug. 16: Chelsea lose 3-0 away to Manchester City, with Mourinho substituting captain John Terry at half-time.

Aug. 29: Mourinho's 100th Premier League home match results in only a second loss as his side go down 2-1 to Crystal Palace.

Sept. 12: The Blues lose again as they are beaten 3-1 at Everton, Steven Naismith scores a hat trick.

Sept. 21: Dr Carneiro resigns from her post with the team. Later that year she claims constructive dismissal against Chelsea, and a separate, but connected, personal legal action against Mourinho for alleged harassment and sex discrimination.

Mourinho was under serious pressure at the start of the 2015-16 season.

Oct. 3: Following a fourth league defeat, 3-1 to Southampton, Mourinho questions whether he will be sacked and subsequently receives the first vote of confidence in a manager in the 12 years of Roman Abramovich's ownership.

Oct. 24: Chelsea lose again, 2-1 at West Ham, losing Nemanja Matic to a first-half red card and also having assistant first-team coach Silvino Louro sent to the stands. Mourinho does not emerge on the touchline for the second half, having also been sent off.

Oct. 31: Chelsea suffer yet another defeat as Liverpool are 3-1 winners at Stamford Bridge. The club's position on his future, publicly at least, is unchanged from the vote of confidence at the start of the month.

Chelsea FC-The Sinking Bus #chelsea #cfc #mourinho #premierleague #epl

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Nov. 7: With Mourinho absent from the game due to a touchline ban, Chelsea lose 1-0 at Stoke -- the club's seventh league loss of the campaign.

Diego Costa threw his bib in the direction of Mourinho.

Nov. 29: Diego Costa is dropped to the substitutes' bench for the 0-0 draw at Tottenham and throws his bib in Mourinho's direction when it becomes apparent he would not feature.

Dec. 5: Blues go down 1-0 at home to Eddie Howe's Bournemouth. Substitute Glenn Murray was on the pitch for one minute 39 seconds before netting 82nd-minute winner.

Dec. 14: Chelsea beaten 2-1 at Leicester, putting the Foxes back top of the Premier League and leaving Mourinho's men one point above the relegation zone after 16 matches -- Chelsea's worst start to a season since 1978, when they went on to be relegated.

Jose Mourinho
Mourinho was sacked for a second time by Chelsea just before Christmas.

Dec. 17: Chelsea announce they have parted company with Mourinho by mutual consent.

Dec. 19: Guus Hiddink is appointed interim Chelsea manager until the end of the season. The Dutchman had taken charge of Chelsea on a temporary basis before, in early 2009, and won the FA Cup that year.

Chelsea beat Sunderland 3-1, but the fans jeered their own players. As one banner read: "You let José down. You let us down."

Dec. 31: Over the Christmas period, Chelsea draw 2-2 with Watford and 0-0 with Man United and end the year in 14th place. Their season record reads: P19, W5, D5, L9.

There were plenty of shows of support from the Chelsea fans for Mourinho after his exit.


Jan. 3: Chelsea go six points clear of relegation with a 3-0 win at Crystal Palace, then draw 2-2 with West Brom and 3-3 with Everton.

Jan. 24: Costa strikes to give the Blues a 1-0 win over Arsenal which moves them up to 13th place.

Jan. 29: Club confirms the loan signing of Alexandre Pato for the rest of the season from Corinthians.

March 12: Everton advance to the FA Cup semifinals after knocking out Chelsea with a 2-0 victory, thanks to a brace from former Blues striker Romelu Lukaku. Costa and Gareth Barry sent off.

Antonio Conte with Chelsea jersey
Antonio Conte was the man to replace Mourinho.

April 4: Chelsea announce that Italy manager Antonio Conte will become the new head coach after Euro 2016.

April 9: A 1-0 defeat to Swansea is the first loss under Hiddink, a run of 15 games in the league (seven wins, eight draws).

April 16: Chelsea then lose 3-1 to Manchester City with a Sergio Aguero hat trick and a fine performance from former Chelsea player Kevin De Bruyne.

Hazard scored to hand the title to Leicester.

May 2: Chelsea come back from 2-0 down at half-time against Tottenham to claim a 2-2 draw. The result hands the title to Leicester City.

May 15: The club host champions Leicester on the final day of the season, a 1-1 draw. Chelsea finish 10th -- the club's lowest finish in the Premier League since 1995-96 when they finished 11th. It also marks the worst title defence in the Premier League's 24-year history (P38, W12, D14, L12).

June 7: Dr Carneiro due to begin giving evidence in her tribunal but, after last-minute talks, agrees to settle her case against Mourinho and Chelsea. The club apologises to the doctor for the distress caused to her, and Mourinho thanks her for her service.

July 3: Conte officially joins Chelsea after leading Italy to Euro 2016 quarterfinals. And Michy Batshuayi signs from Marseille for £33.2 million.

N'Golo Kante was signed to shore up the midfield.

July 16: Chelsea sign Leicester City midfielder N'Golo Kante on a five-year deal for a fee around £30m.

Aug. 15: Chelsea begin Premier League season with a 2-1 win over London rivals West Ham. And go on to win their first three games.

Aug. 31: Chelsea re-sign former defender David Luiz from Paris Saint-Germain on a three-year contract, for a fee around £40m. Club also sign Marcos Alonso from Fiorentina on a five-year contract in a deal reportedly worth around £23m.

Sept. 16: Club suffer first loss under Conte, a 2-1 defeat to Liverpool thanks to Jordan Henderson's 25-yard strike.

Gary Cahill
Arsenal put Chelsea to the sword.

Sept. 24: Chelsea hammered 3-0 by Arsenal -- the Gunners' first against them in the league since October 2011 -- all the goals come in the first half. Conte says that a "bad attitude" cost his players.

Oct. 1: Conte debuts 3-4-3 formation against Hull City with Alonso and Victor Moses as wing-backs -- a 2-0 win.

Oct. 15: Chelsea continue with the tactic and thrash reigning Premier League champions Leicester 3-0.

Mourinho was well beaten on his return to the Bridge and had words with Conte about his celebrations.

Oct. 23: Mourinho returns to Stamford Bridge with new club Manchester United. United are hammered 4-0 with goals from Pedro, Gary Cahill, Hazard and Kante.

Nov. 26: Chelsea reclaim top spot in the Premier League after a 2-0 win over Tottenham.

Dec. 9: Chelsea become the first club to collect three Premier League awards in the same month: Costa named Player of the Month; Conte named Manager of the Month; Pedro won Premier League Goal of the Month.

Dec. 31: The club win a record equalling 13th game in a row: a 4-2 win over Stoke. Their season record reads: P19, W16, D1, L2.

Conte began his career in England brilliantly.


Jan. 4: The winning streak, that included success over Man City (3-1), Tottenham (2-1) and Everton (5-0), comes to an end with a 2-0 defeat to Tottenham.

Jan. 13: Conte becomes the first manager in history to win the Manager of the Month award for three successive months.

Jan. 14: A 3-0 win over Leicester, without Costa due to a bust up on the training ground, sees Chelsea surpass their points total from the entire 2015-16 Premier League season: 52 points compared to 50.

Even a reported bust-up between Conte and Costa couldn't halt the charge.

Jan. 31: Liverpool hold Chelsea to a draw but the club extend their lead at the top of the table to nine, as Arsenal and Tottenham also drop points.

Feb. 4: Chelsea hammer Arsenal 3-1. Before the game, Conte reveals that the Gunners' 3-0 win in September has not left him. "This defeat seems far [away], but it's important to remember the defeat against Arsenal because it was a bad defeat, 3-0 after the first half, and in my mind it's always present."

March 13: Mourinho is abused by Chelsea fans with chants of "Judas" and "You're not special any more" as the Blues knock Man United out of the FA Cup 1-0, with a goal from Kante. Mourinho responds with a gesture showing how many titles he won at Stamford Bridge.

Jose Mourinho
Mourinho's gesture reminded Chelsea fans of his status.

April 1: After three wins from their next four games, Chelsea suffer shock 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace.

April 5: But they respond with a 2-1 win over Man City with a first half brace from Hazard.

April 18: John Terry announces that he will not be playing at Chelsea next season.

April 22: Chelsea knock Spurs out of the FA Cup and embark on a three-game winning streak against Southampton, Everton and Middlesbrough -- scoring 10 goals in the process.

Chelsea celebrate their success on the Hawthorns pitch.

May 12: Spurs' dropped points in a defeat to West Ham mean Chelsea can claim the title with a win over West Brom. And they do with a 1-0 win thanks to Michy Batshuayi's late goal.

Chelsea manager Conte wins fourth league title in his last four seasons as a club manager, having lifted the Serie A trophy three years running with Juventus before leaving to manage Italy.

Information from the Press Association and Chelsea correspondent Liam Twomey was used in this report.

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