Premier League Betting: Chelsea could learn a thing or two from Leicester

Claudio Ranieri will return to Stamford Bridge in triumph this weekend
Claudio Ranieri will return to Stamford Bridge in triumph this weekend

As the newly-crowned champions finish their season at last year's winners, Chelsea could do worse than look at Leicester for a few tips, writes Andy Brassell...

"They already had a window into Leicester's recipe in mid-December in a defeat at the King Power Stadium, back when it was becoming clear that Leicester were a serious proposition and that Mourinho was in serious danger of losing his post."

In a season full of rich twists, we've been denied one final moment on the Premier League's closing weekend. Ever since the prospect of Leicester City becoming champions became a genuine possibility, the idea of Claudio Ranieri returning to clinch the title at Stamford Bridge in the last game of the campaign seemed just too good to be true.

Ultimately, it has proved to be just that, even if Eden Hazard's equaliser against Tottenham on the same ground did seal the deal for Leicester just over a week ago. There's no José Mourinho for Ranieri to lord it over either, although it's hard to imagine the Italian grandstanding in the first place.

There's still going to be a fairly jarring sight in front of us, though, seeing where Chelsea and Leicester have respectively ended up this season. Leicester are 3.02/1 to end their season on a winning note at the Bridge, with the draw perhaps providing the best value at 3.711/4, if we consider the possibility of the Foxes relaxing, although they hardly looked in that sort of mood against Everton.

What Chelsea could certainly do with, as they regroup after a chastening season - and what looks like being a fairly undignified end to John Terry's stellar career at the club at Sunderland last weekend, meaning he'll miss out on playing in this - is taking a peek at what Leicester have done right.

They already had a window into that recipe in mid-December in a defeat at the King Power Stadium, back when it was becoming clear that Leicester were a serious proposition and that Mourinho was in serious danger of losing his post. Now, with the two teams' fates for the season sealed, it's more of a moment for reflection.

Perhaps the incoming Blues boss Antonio Conte might have little time for what Ranieri has been up to; the last time the pair came face to face was in Serie A some five years ago, when Conte was bringing the Scudetto back to Turin for the first time in six seasons on the back of an unbeaten season, while Ranieri didn't even last the whole campaign at a struggling Inter.

The older man's knowhow in England is not to be sniffed at, however. Nor is Ranieri's ability to allow players to express themselves, with - as this column pointed out earlier in the season - his success in getting the best out of Riyad Mahrez, for example, closely mimicking the platform he gave James Rodríguez to become a truly world class performer at Monaco.

The Blues' new coach certainly has quality to work with, and lacks nothing in terms of motivational skill, having forged his reputation through being a demanding (and successful) taskmaster. What Ranieri offers differently, in terms of approach, is a mix of the carrot and stick. He is harder than his genial public personality sometimes suggests, but he knows when to ease off too, as most noticeable when he gave his players several days off following their last-ditch defeat to Arsenal. He was rewarded with a renewed vigour after that point.

So rather than being indignant, it will serve the outgoing champions better to take Leicester seriously and with respect - and figure out how they can close the gap for next season.

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