Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois believes lifting the Premier League title this season would be all the more satisfying after last term’s implosion.
The Blues won the 2014-15 title under Jose Mourinho, who was sacked for a second time as Chelsea boss seven months later. Chelsea went on to finish 10th as Leicester claimed a surprise crown.
But head coach Antonio Conte has rejuvenated the Blues, who require three points from the final three games to claim the trophy after Monday night’s 3-0 win which relegated Middlesbrough.
Courtois spent three years on loan at Atletico Madrid, winning LaLiga before claiming a Premier League title in his first campaign in English football. Another championship could follow at West Brom on Friday.
Asked to compare the successes with Chelsea, the Belgium goalkeeper told talkSPORT: “It’s hard to say because obviously in the first year I came here, I came from winning the league in Spain and straight away we won the league, so that was very nice.
“But this year was maybe even more special, because last year was a very bad year.
“We had a lot of critics, the new manager came in at the beginning of the season, we won some games but then we lost and there were again a lot of critics.
“But then we bounced back as a team very hard and we played very well.
“From that point of view I think it’s very nice to hopefully be able to lift that Premier League title soon.
“I know we’re not there yet, but we’re very close and it will be very enjoyable after last year.”
Matic salutes Chelsea’s fortitude
Midfielder Nemanja Matic, who scored his first goal at Stamford Bridge against Boro, reckons Chelsea’s ability to respond from setbacks has been key.
A 13-game winning run in the league followed September’s losses to Liverpool and Arsenal, while Chelsea have won four games since the defeat to Manchester United, including in the FA Cup against Tottenham to set up a May 27 final with Arsenal.
Matic told Chelsea TV: “After every bad game we always recover very quickly, we always respond very well and win.”
Conte has called on his players to maintain their focus and win the title at the first opportunity, on Friday at The Hawthorns.
Courtois added: “We hope to do it at the first attempt. We know West Brom are a hard team to play against – we had a very tough game here (1-0 win at Stamford Bridge in December).
“Every opponent who goes there has a hard game, they are eighth in the league and have had a very good year.
“They might not have the pressure to win the game in terms of their league position but nobody wants to be the team that loses and let other guys have their parties.
“They will give us a very hard game there and we have to stay focused like we were at Everton and against Middlesbrough.”
Matic added: “We have everything in our hands. We decide our future. On Friday, we have an opportunity to win and to take a title.”
Conte, who is chasing the double in his first season as boss, says his players should enjoy the moment.
The former Juventus and Italy coach told Chelsea TV: “We must be excited to live this type of situation.
“We are very close to reach a great target. At the same time we have to keep the right concentration, to live the moment with calm, but with the right focus.
“It’s important because we earned to live this moment with good excitement.”