Why did it go wrong for Chelsea?
Chelsea came up short in the titanic Premier League encounter against Manchester City at the Bridge, losing by one-goal-to-nil. It was a bitterly disappointing performance from the Premier League champions who looked exhausted following their tricky but successful excursion away in Madrid on Wednesday night. So why did it all go wrong for the Champions today?
Chelsea made two changes following the match in Madrid: Rudiger replaced the suspended Luiz and Christensen came into the back three. This allowed Azpilicueta to start at RWB with Victor Moses subsequently dropping to the bench. Moses looked exhausted towards the latter stages against Atletico and Davide Zappacosta wouldn’t have made his Chelsea league start in a game of this magnitude. That only left Cesar to deputise in the RWB. The front-line looks a huge concern and this concern will be accentuated if it is a hamstring strain regarding Alvaro Morata. Morata came off mid-way through the first half and was replaced by Willian. Conte was eying Fernando Llorente in the transfer window and the effects of missing out on the Spaniard may be staring the Italian in the face. Defeats like this cause fans to point fingers at the board where City strengthened significantly and Chelsea, in effect, only replaced.
We haven’t said this often but Antonio Conte’s tactics were wrong today. I understand why Chelsea played 3-5-2 since it worked Wednesday and continuity is the recipe for success. However, City and Atletico were two different games. We were away in Madrid and probably would’ve been carved open by the likes of Carrasco, Griezmann, Gaitan etc. had we played with Kante and Fabregas. 3-4-3 served us well last year on the way to our historic title victory, so why not stick with what you know? The team actually looked better when Pedro and Batshuayi did come on so it was a shame why Conte never chose it to start with. Hazard looked isolated for the large majority of the match and was ineffective as a forward duo. Conte tried with a pressing technique by bringing Willian on instead of Michy when Morata went off injured but it didn’t work.
Chelsea’s mentality for this fixture was completely wrong. You wouldn’t have noticed Chelsea playing at home if you were just focusing on the two teams and nothing else. Chelsea was set up to counter-attack City and whilst it can be useful against a Pep Guardiola team, this strategy didn't come to fruition today. Chelsea looked conservative and timid: they didn't want to get in the faces and battle with Man City which was disappointing. City came to the Bridge with the intention of three points and that's what they obtained.
Today, ultimately, confirmed that Chelsea is significantly off the pace when it comes to competing for the title. I was resigned to the fact that we wouldn't be Champions once the transfer window closed. The difference was: City and United strengthened whilst Chelsea replaced. Antonio needs to sort out the mentality because we are looking like a better away side than at the Bridge, so he needs to find balance. There is still time to rectify the issues since it is October but work needs to be done during the international break.