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Why no Europe means no problems for Chelsea

COMMENT: For the first time this century, Chelsea won't be involved in European competition in any form this season, and while this is a dark cloud over Stamford Bridge, they say every cloud has a silver lining.

Chelsea's silver lining this time being that history suggests the season away from Europe will see them rocket back up the Premier League table.

With less games and less travel ahead of them, a lack of European competition is set to revitalise a club that could only manage a tenth-placed finish last season in what was a disastrous Premier League title defence.

While European competition in any form offers money and glamour any side is desperate for, history suggests a break from it does help Premier League sides rediscover their league form.

Most recently, Manchester United after a miserable 2013/14 season under new manager David Moyes in which they finished 7th before taking advantage of their first year without European action since 1990 to jump up to 4th in the 2014/15 Premier League season.

While the replacement of Moyes with Louis van Gaal may have given a helping hand, a respite from the demands of Europe undoubtedly played its part for the Red Devils.

Liverpool also saw their league standing improve rapidly with a season-long absence from Europe. After finishing 7th in 2012/13 and ruling themselves out of Europe, Liverpool then pushed for the title in the 2013/14 season, ultimately finishing second.

Another Manchester club that benefitted from a season without continental disctration was Man City in the 2009/10 season when they finished 5th. While not itself a remarkable result, the fact they finished the previous season 10th suggests a European break helped the club improve quite a lot domestically.

One final case to prove Chelsea's season out of Europe isn't all bad, is that of Tottenham Hotspur, who failed to qualify for Europe by finishing 8th in 2008/09 before sliding up to 4th the season after.

Call it a distraction, call it exhausting, call it whatever you like Chelsea fans because a season out of Europe could do you the world of good.

If earlier signs are anything to go by, the break could certainly see the West London sun shining again over The Bridge.

First of all, it will allow new coach Antonio Conte time to properly craft his strongest side.

Rather than having to rest stars and field premature youngsters, Conte will have the freedom to truly get to know the line-up and formation and work out its strengths rather than have its weaknesses ruthlessly exposed by Europe's best outfits.

One star who will be hoping to rediscover his shine is Eden Hazard. After a very sluggish start last season, the midfielder has come out firing out of the blocks this campaign and without the fatigue of European competition to deal with, he stands every chance of continuing this sterling form thus far.

Diego Costa might not be the shining star Hazard is, but the break from Europe could allow the aggressive striker to channel his ruthlessness in front of goal again after a relatively quiet display last season. If his quality double against Swansea City is anything to by, Costa may be close to rediscovering his absolute best without having extra games to worry about.

If all that isn't enough to ease your heartache, Chelsea fans, as you sit back and European competition without any nerves, just remember that history suggests you are set to a finish a fair deal higher than tenth in the Premier League this season and could well find yourselves back in Europe before you know it.

Joshua Thomas
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Joshua Thomas

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