London: Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois reckons winning the Premier League title with Chelsea this season will be all the sweeter after their struggles last term.
The Blues were crowned champions of England in the 2014/15 season only to suffer a dramatic slump in form the following season that led to the sacking of manager Jose Mourinho.
Chelsea eventually finished 10th in the table as Leicester, 5,000/1 pre-season no-hopers completed a remarkable title triumph.
But 'normal service' has been resumed under Italian boss Antonio Conte, Mourinho's successor, and now west London club Chelsea will be crowned champions if they win away to West Bromwich Albion on Friday following Monday's 3-0 victory which relegated Middlesbrough.
Even if they slip up against the Baggies, Chelsea will still be overwhelming favourites given they need just three points from their final three league games this season to take the title.
Courtois spent three years on loan at Atletico Madrid, winning La Liga before claiming a Premier League title in his first season in English football.
The Belgium goalkeeper, asked to compare winning the title with Chelsea under Mourinho to this season with Conte, told Talksport Radio on Tuesday: "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."
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 (a 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."
Chelsea suffered September defeats by both Liverpool and Arsenal but responded by embarking upon a 13-match winning run in the league.
They have since won four matches in a row following a defeat by Manchester United, including an FA Cup semi-final success against London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, their nearest challengers in the league, that left Conte on the brink of completing a domestic 'Double' in his first season in English football.
"After every bad game we always recover very quickly, we always respond very well and win," Blues midfielder Nemanja Matic told Chelsea TV. "We have everything in our hands. We decide our future. On Friday, we have an opportunity to win and to take a title."
Published Date: May 10, 2017 06:43 pm | Updated Date: May 10, 2017 06:44 pm