There has been a lot of speculation this summer regarding the future of Chelsea manager Antonio Conte after some interesting movements at Stamford Bridge during the transfer window. But after an impressive defensive display saw the Blues pick up a massive three points at Wembley, the Italian proved he was still the man to do the job at the Premier League Champions.
Manager Antonio Conte Still the Man for Chelsea
Much has been made of Chelsea’s actions during the transfer window, especially the decision to sell Nemanja Matic to Manchester United. It is clearly a decision that has angered Conte, and was one made without his consent, and has reported to have led to a rift between the 48-year-old and the club’s hierarchy.
Players like Nathan Ake, Kurt Zouma and Nathaniel Chalobah are amongst those who have left the club without replacements coming in, leaving Chelsea with a threadbare squad. This was evident by the inclusion of youngsters Fikayo Tomori, Kyle Scott and Charly Musonda on the Chelsea bench, none of whom have started a Premier League game.
This seemingly lack of trust in the board, coupled with ongoing speculation over the future of striker Diego Costa, has led to rumours of discontent in the dressing room, and suggestions that Conte may be willing to walk away from Chelsea in the near future. This wasn’t helped by a shock opening day defeat to Burnley, with Conte looking increasingly frustrated, and subdued from his usual animated self.
With the squad still in dire need of reinforcements all over the pitch, and with Cesc Fabregas and Gary Cahill missing out through suspension, Eden Hazard still suffering the effects of an ankle injury, as well as Tiemoue Bakayoko and Pedro barely match fit, very few gave Chelsea any hope away at Tottenham. It was a makeshift back three that lined up at Wembley, with Andreas Christensen making his full Premier League debut alongside new boy Antonio Rudiger and last season’s ever-present Cesar Azpilicueta.
But despite Tottenham having a seemingly vastly superior starting XI to Chelsea, the Blues produced a masterclass in defending. David Luiz, deployed in an unfamiliar midfield role, was at the heart of everything good that Chelsea did, and he was ably assisted by the ever reliable N’Golo Kante and Bakayoko.
Conte’s decision for Chelsea to set up compact and allow very little room for Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen to operate certainly paid off, with the pair struggling to stamp their authority on the game. Tottenham carved out very few clear cut opportunities, and even when they did get their goal, it came via a set piece. Make no mistake, this wasn’t a vintage Chelsea display, but perhaps the most important result of Conte’s reign so far.
It was clear that Conte set his side up with defending his prime concern, yet he knew that with the individual talent he has in his side, there will be players capable of producing the moments of brilliant that can get them the three points, whatever the calibre of the opposition, with Marcos Alonso the man stealing the headlines at Wembley.
Conte will still look to bring in reinforcements to bolster a squad that needs the numbers to deal with Champions League football, and with the Blues able to produce performances like the one that beat Tottenham even with a weakened team, it would be foolish to rule Chelsea out of the title race.
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