A tenth place finish in the Premier League last season means that Chelsea are without European football this season for the first time in 20 years. As fans, we have grown used to enormous success domestically and strong showings on the continent during that time, so the lack of mid-week matches (not counting League Cup or FA Cup ties) in the 2016-17 season is a nuisance of a reminder of last season's terribleness.
But there is a silver lining, however dull it may be, in that the squad will have more time to concentrate on the league and to learn Antonio Conte's tactics and methods during training.
"I believe it could be an advantage not being in the Champions League this season, but we also know the Champions league has been a very important factor for this club, at least for the four years I have been here."
"This season we have focus on the league as the main objective, and I think it could be beneficial. It's been a very good start. We had a very good pre-season, and in the first game we did well."
"It's a change, it's different, and [Conte] is a very good coach, a very good guy. Every coach is different to one another and we're playing slightly different style, but we enjoy it, and we're hoping to have a very good season."
Oscar's just the latest from the head coach on down to put a positive spin on the situation -- not that we have a different choice really. Still, a congested, two-games-per-week schedule affords very little time for actual training, and that won't be a problem this season for Chelsea!
Presumably, mid-season training will be slightly less intense than pre-season was, though the hard work of these early sessions is already paying off. Oscar in particular seems to be enjoying his all-action box-to-box role so far.
"At the beginning it was a bit scary because he works players initially, but when you look at the results on the pitch you know he's done it for a reason. It's good for me."
"Last season we didn't have a very good start, and eventually when we tried to revert the situation it was too late to reach the top spot. When you look at the season we were champions we had a very strong start to the season, and we ended up champions. It's important to have a good start."
"Definitely the aim is to be champions. We have a good team and we have the players as well to make us champions, we just have to focus on what we're doing, we have to concentrate."
-Oscar; source: Sky Sports
Here's hoping for a second win tomorrow, so we can continue to build our early momentum.