It was a disastrous start to the English Premier League campaign for Antonio Conte and current champions Chelsea. They were beaten on the opening day of the season by Sean Dyche’s Burnley at home 3-2.
Skipper Gary Cahill was dismissed after just 14 minutes for a dangerous challenge on Burnley’s Steven Defour. Chelsea found themselves 3-0 down at half time and short of ideas. They did get back into the game after the break, with goals from new signing Alvaro Morata and Brazilian David Luiz, a Cesc Fabregas red card was sandwiched in between though and Burnley ran out winners.
Since then, Chelsea have managed two wins on the trot, against Tottenham and Everton. The Blues next game is away to Leicester City and as early as we are into the season, it is a must win for both teams if they want to be in the thick of things. For Chelsea, there is still talk of issues away from the field. Losing your captain and arguably your best centre half is going to cause problems, there’s no doubt about that. Chelsea play a three at the back system and Cahill is integral to it but you’d expect the likes of David Luiz and new recruit, Antonio Rudiger, to be able to cope as they become familiar with each others game.
Chelsea were solid at the back throughout their victorious title challenge last season and will need to be at their best again; especially as their main rivals have added quality in the attacking department. Diego Costa won’t play for the club again and his replacement, Alavaro Morata, scored and seems to be settling into the English Premier League better than anyone expected. However, the issue is, Chelsea will need him to be on his game all season, so they get the goals required to defend their crown. Costa hit 20 in the league last term and it is yet to be seen whether Morata can plunder similar amounts.
Football is a squad game and you need real strength in depth, especially when you’re competing for honours against the likes of Manchester City and Manchester United. Chelsea’s bench looks weak and Antonio Conte is believed to be concerned at the lack of transfer activity that has taken place during the summer window, and this has certainly raised question marks over his relationship with the Stamford Bridge hierarchy as well as his future. To be fair, there was real concern that Conte would be one of the first managers to leave their club, but these rumours have calmed down. Boylesports have Conte priced at 16/1 to leave Chelsea, with Crystal Palace’s Frank De Boer 4/7 odds on favourite to exit the South London club.
You can’t imagine Chelsea not being there or there abouts come the end of the season. Conte proved he was a very skilled coach in his maiden campaign and he does have quality in his ranks. There is no reason why we shouldn’t expect them to be battling the Manchester clubs and Liverpool, for the Premier League crown.