Chelsea’s speedy fears had been realized on Sunday. Its season-long fears may need been realized in related trend.
Manchester Metropolis’s 1-0 victory over the Blues on the Etihad Stadium may not have been as complete because the runaway Premier League leaders’ different large scalps this season, but it surely was nonetheless a pronouncement of the worth of 1 individual and the toll of one other.
N’Golo Kante didn’t even make the matchday squad on account of sickness, and his absence sank Chelsea deep inside its personal half for a lot of the match. That’s comprehensible; the diminutive midfield ball-hoarder has been the fulcrum of the final two English champions, Chelsea final season and Leicester Metropolis the season earlier than.
However this, this arthritic, uninspired efficiency, was one thing extra. Chelsea nominally lined up in supervisor Antonio Conte’s most well-liked 3-5-2, however extra precisely it was a 5-4-1. Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso had been content material to hold as fourth and fifth fullbacks. Willian and Pedro flanked the central midfield duo of Danny Drinkwater and Cesc Fabregas way more typically than they did Eden Hazard, who was neglected to dry up prime.
Chelsea provided little journey and even much less creativeness going ahead. This wasn’t a Conte away method. It was a Jose Mourinho away method.
Once more, it type of needed to be. However on the similar time, this Chelsea aspect regarded drained, floor to a pulp by Conte’s hyper-intense administration model.
It’s a skinny squad to start with, not less than in comparison with the opposite Premier League powers. That was negligible with a lighter calendar of fixtures final season. Now with the Champions League again on provide, to not point out an EFL Cup run that ended within the semifinals and an FA Cup run that’s nonetheless very a lot alive, the mileage is piling up.
Is Conte improper for having Chelsea on this spot? It could be harsh to say so, however there’s no denying the Blues regarded as lifeless as they’ve in any large fixture in current reminiscence. It was obvious proper from the beginning:
Chelsea completed the sport with a measly three photographs, and none on track. Metropolis itself solely had three on track, and seems it solely wanted this one:
The Residents weren’t fairly as ballistic as typical, in all probability because of the truth they had been taking part in their third recreation in seven days. However as a substitute of creating excuses, Metropolis was ping-ponging the ball backwards and forwards by the second half and treating the opponents as cones with Chelsea shirts. Even bringing on the out-of-favor Alvaro Morata shortly earlier than stoppage time felt much less like a respectable try by the Blues to win and extra like a field they figured they may as properly verify.
In need of including reinforcements in the summertime switch window, it’s powerful to see that altering. A fiery chief like Conte might be what Premier League golf equipment must match the blistering tempo Pep Guardiola’s Metropolis will set for years to return, however this marriage has felt over for awhile. With 4 losses prior to now 5 video games, Chelsea is falling additional away from the highest 4 as properly.
Within the meantime, Manchester Metropolis has all however pried the Premier League trophy from Chelsea’s arms. It’s time for the Blues to search out that type of vigor once more.