Please read, like, share and, most importantly, enjoy this week's edition of INSIDE INFO - the original (we're looking at you, www.southamptonfc.co.uk) Saints column which gets the opposition's views ahead of their match against our beloved Southampton.
St. Mary's Musings: What were your expectations before the season's start and how do they compare to now?
Dávid Pásztor: The baseline expectation after the shambles of last season was a top four finish and a return to the Champions League. This was both the message from the club and Conte over the summer, as well as the standard expectation for most fans.
Just a top four finish at this point however would be a massive disappointment. With a second Double firmly within the club's reach, it's become all about making sure that our good season ends up being a great season.
SMM: How would you rate Antonio Conte at this point in his Chelsea tenure? Are there any flaws at all?
DP: It's hard to complain about any flaws in a head coach who's restored Chelsea to the top of the table, restored the good vibes at the club behind the scenes, has steadfastly refused to air any dirty laundry in public, stayed away from mind games and transfer rumors, and has consistently projected an image of happiness, togetherness, and hard work. He's gotten the players to buy into his system and methods, he's gotten the fans firmly on his side, and he seems to have developed a great working relationship with the Chelsea Board and the Owner, which, as many could tell you, isn't all that easy.
The biggest question at this point is how well we will deal with the increased workload of next season, when there will be far less time for training ground work, and the squad will need to be trusted more beyond just the first 12-13 players.
SMM: Do you fear Tottenham could close in on that four point gap?
DP: Despite the gap shrinking from 10 to just 4 points in recent weeks, we remain confident that Spurs with Spurs it up sooner rather than later.
SMM: Who and what have been Chelsea's revelations this season?
DP: Where to start? Serial loanee Victor Moses as a wing-back, a brand new position for him, is surely at the top of the surprise developments list, as is the re-emergence of Pedro after a rather indifferent first season in England. David Luiz's return has exceeded just about everyone's expectations — turns out he's made to play the center-most defender in a three-man backline. At the same time, Marcos Alonso at left wing-back has gone from transfer deadline day panic-buy to key player, while the likes of Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard, and Nemanja Matić have firmly put their troubles of last season behind them. César Azpilicueta has established himself as a starter in the third different position since joining five years ago and is the only player to have played in every single game so far, while Diego Costa at one point went 11 games without collecting a yellow card, then went another 10 before collecting his next one. Perhaps the least surprising development of the entire season has been N'Golo Kanté's sheer dominance in certain phases of the game, for which he rightly just earned the PFA Player of the Year award.
SMM: What is your take on Saints' largely innocuous season?
DP: Southampton's ability to stay competitive despite constantly losing your best players is pretty impressive.
SMM: Who should Saints fans be fearing on Tuesday evening?
DP: Hazard is the obvious answer here, though it should be noted that we have four players who've now reached double-digit figures in goals, including Hazard, Costa, Pedro, and Willian. Cesc Fàbregas, either off the bench or as a starter, is often a game-changer.
SMM: Are there any Saints players you're wary of?
DP: Shane Long is always annoying and Conte talked up Gabbiadini, so we'll have to pay great attention to him. Our good pals Ryan Bertrand and Oriol Romeu will no doubt want to produce a good performance as well.
SMM: Chelsea have been linked to Virgil van Dijk ahead of the summer transfer window. What are your thoughts?
DP: Virgil looks like the real deal, though I'm always vary of players coming off of injuries.
SMM: Will Chelsea win the league?
DP: I sure hope so!
SMM: Finally, what is your prediction for Tuesday night?
DP: As we seem incapable of keeping a clean sheet these days, let's go with 2-1, good guys.
We would like to thanks Dávid and We Ain't Got No History for their time. Make sure you check out what we had to say on their blog later today.