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Chelsea's Premier League title defence already looks doomed... so what are the problems facing Antonio Conte after Crystal Palace defeat?

 

Chelsea are eight games into the Premier League campaign and already their aspirations of defending their title appear doomed.

Saturday brought a third league defeat for Antonio Conte's side, following previous reverses against Manchester City and Burnley. 

This was the perhaps the most worrying of all, as Chelsea were comprehensively outfought by Crystal Palace, a team that had previously lost all seven games and failed to score.


 

1. Trouble with Costa, transfers and physical demands

Watch Chelsea this season and there is a nagging sense that something is not quite right. 

The summer yielded fraught tensions between the manager and the club hierarchy, a number of lapsed transfer deals and the Diego Costa situation overshadowed the club's preparations for the new season. 

Conte did not have the squad he wanted when the league season kicked off and the fact Chelsea were 3-0 down at home to Burnley inside 45 minutes spoke volumes.

They still have the capacity to pull off outstanding one-off performances, such as the victories at Tottenham and Atletico Madrid. 

Yet do they have the consistency and depth to keep pace with the Manchester clubs? It appears not. 

Chelsea seem to be struggling with the physical demands too, with Palace offering more sprints and running further as a team than their counterparts on Saturday. 

Conte continues to say how 'difficult' the season will be and the more you say something, the more likely it becomes to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

2. Midfield balance issues

Chelsea allowed Nemanja Matic to leave for Manchester United and that appears a more careless gesture with every passing week. 

His replacement, Tiemoue Bakayoko, has outstanding qualities in his stride, balance and power but he does not offer the positional discipline of his predecessor. 

With N'Golo Kante sidelined through injury for the next few weeks, Conte can ill-afford to pair Bakayoko with Cesc Fabregas too often. It leaves Chelsea vulnerable on the counter attack and in a midfield battle. 

Danny Drinkwater is not too far away from a return but another option might be to play with David Luiz in midfield and allow a defensive opportunity for Andreas Christensen or Antonio Rudiger.

3. Striking struggles

Alvaro Morata is an outstanding frontman but Chelsea are now one injury niggle away from a crisis. 

When Sergio Aguero missed Saturday's fixture for Manchester City, Pep Guardiola's side scored seven. Chelsea, by contrast, wilted entirely without their star frontman.

Michy Batshuayi has popped up with important goals, notably to win the title at West Brom and to seal victory at Atletico. Yet Conte clearly does not trust the striker to last the distance during a major game. 

When Morata was injured against City early on, Conte preferred to play without a striker than offer Batshuayi a chance and on Saturday, the Belgian played only 57 minutes before being substituted.

He subsequently cursed to the heavens and through a minor hissy-fit on the touchline. It was clear in the summer that Conte wanted a different man, notably Fernando Llorente, and now he is being proved correct in his judgement.


 

4. Flimsy title defence

No side has successfully defended the Premier League title since Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United in 2009 and we are coming up to a decade. 

To win consecutive Premier League titles, with the resources of the clubs at the top of this division, appears ever more difficult. 

Since the start of the Premier League era, only Ferguson and Jose Mourinho have achieved the feat. Yet there are title defences and then there are Chelsea title defences. 

Chelsea's mentality was severely questioned two years ago, when Mourinho's all-conquering champions suffered the most extraordinary meltdown. 

Conte warned in pre-season that his team would not endure another 'Mourinho season'. With his team nine points off the pace and 20 behind Manchester City on goal difference, Conte's words may yet come back to haunt him.


 

5. Predictability

Chelsea's 3-4-2-1 formation stunned the Premier League last season and over the past year nearly every side in the division have trialled the system at one point or another. 

Conte changed the way managers think but now English football is used to the formation and Chelsea are struggling for a Plan B. Does Conte have another trick up his sleeve to change matters up? 

It may be that the system yields more success in Europe, where more clubs are unfamiliar with the benefits of the formation.


 

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5. Predictability

Chelsea's 3-4-2-1 formation stunned the Premier League last season and over the past year nearly every side in the division have trialled the system at one point or another. 

Conte changed the way managers think but now English football is used to the formation and Chelsea are struggling for a Plan B. Does Conte have another trick up his sleeve to change matters up? 

It may be that the system yields more success in Europe, where more clubs are unfamiliar with the benefits of the formation.

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This forum is way too lenient with managers. Okay, the squad is not as good as could be, but Conte is not doing his homework. 

At this point its pretty clear he a one trick manager, and he relies on 3CB formation. He just doesn't have a plan B. With very few exceptions, after 20 minutes of the game we know how the rest of the game will unfold. It means if the team start the game playing really bad, the team will keep playing bad until the final whistle. 

Conte is good, but not a genius. Its really weird that people in this forum are mad because he didn't sign a contract extension yet when still got two more seasons left.

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13 minutes ago, Henrique said:

This forum is way too lenient with managers. Okay, the squad is not as good as could be, but Conte is not doing his homework. 

At this point its pretty clear he a one trick manager, and he relies on 3CB formation. He just doesn't have a plan B. With very few exceptions, after 20 minutes of the game we know how the rest of the game will unfold. It means if the team start the game playing really bad, the team will keep playing bad until the final whistle. 

Conte is good, but not a genius. Its really weird that people in this forum are mad because he didn't sign a contract extension yet when still got two more seasons left.

And you think there's any better manager out there that can work good with what we have?  

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1 hour ago, Henrique said:

He just doesn't have a plan B.

Tbh, what manager right now does? Pochettino seldom shows tactical flexibility, if anything Conte showed he's more agile there when we played Spurs and he went with diamond formation. Granted his hand was forced by needing to draft Luiz in a DM. But he still managed to out-whit MP. 

Mourinho we know has no plan B. He has only one plan game-to-game as he showed vs Liverpool (Lmao the irony United fans are now defending 'park the bus'). So unless you're going to name me a manager outside the PL, I struggle to see anyone who every implements a plan B or C. 

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2 hours ago, Fernando said:

And you think there's any better manager out there that can work good with what we have?  

I am not doubting Conte just yet but i always felt that "who can do better?" narrative to be quite simplistic.

Two year's ago a lot of people wanted to keep Jose because apparently there was no one better but alas, there was. If Conte's tenure crashes and burns at any point ofcourse there will be better option's out there.

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29 minutes ago, Tomo said:

I am not doubting Conte just yet but i always felt that "who can do better?" narrative to be quite simplistic.

Two year's ago a lot of people wanted to keep Jose because apparently there was no one better but alas, there was. If Conte's tenure crashes and burns at any point ofcourse there will be better option's out there.

But sooner or later, we're gonna run out of good managers, if we haven't already. Conte hasn't helped himself with some poor decisions this season but it's obvious that he's trying to extract as much as possible out of this flawed squad. Any other manager would likely be struggling as well and worse, they might even be clueless like AVB, Scolari or Grant.

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3 hours ago, Tomo said:

I am not doubting Conte just yet but i always felt that "who can do better?" narrative to be quite simplistic.

Two year's ago a lot of people wanted to keep Jose because apparently there was no one better but alas, there was. If Conte's tenure crashes and burns at any point ofcourse there will be better option's out there.

And saying "of course there will be better options" without giving even one name isnt simplistic I guess. 

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Nobody comes to mind, but if there's anyone 'technically' or tactically better than Conte, they no doubt have less titles + experience.

All the other managers with relative titles + experience are either really old and employ boring, yesteryear football, or, are Guardiola.

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18 hours ago, milka said:

Chelsea's Premier League title defence already looks doomed... so what are the problems facing Antonio Conte after Crystal Palace defeat?

 

Chelsea are eight games into the Premier League campaign and already their aspirations of defending their title appear doomed.

Saturday brought a third league defeat for Antonio Conte's side, following previous reverses against Manchester City and Burnley. 

This was the perhaps the most worrying of all, as Chelsea were comprehensively outfought by Crystal Palace, a team that had previously lost all seven games and failed to score.


 

1. Trouble with Costa, transfers and physical demands

Watch Chelsea this season and there is a nagging sense that something is not quite right. 

The summer yielded fraught tensions between the manager and the club hierarchy, a number of lapsed transfer deals and the Diego Costa situation overshadowed the club's preparations for the new season. 

Conte did not have the squad he wanted when the league season kicked off and the fact Chelsea were 3-0 down at home to Burnley inside 45 minutes spoke volumes.

They still have the capacity to pull off outstanding one-off performances, such as the victories at Tottenham and Atletico Madrid. 

Yet do they have the consistency and depth to keep pace with the Manchester clubs? It appears not. 

Chelsea seem to be struggling with the physical demands too, with Palace offering more sprints and running further as a team than their counterparts on Saturday. 

Conte continues to say how 'difficult' the season will be and the more you say something, the more likely it becomes to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

2. Midfield balance issues

Chelsea allowed Nemanja Matic to leave for Manchester United and that appears a more careless gesture with every passing week. 

His replacement, Tiemoue Bakayoko, has outstanding qualities in his stride, balance and power but he does not offer the positional discipline of his predecessor. 

With N'Golo Kante sidelined through injury for the next few weeks, Conte can ill-afford to pair Bakayoko with Cesc Fabregas too often. It leaves Chelsea vulnerable on the counter attack and in a midfield battle. 

Danny Drinkwater is not too far away from a return but another option might be to play with David Luiz in midfield and allow a defensive opportunity for Andreas Christensen or Antonio Rudiger.

3. Striking struggles

Alvaro Morata is an outstanding frontman but Chelsea are now one injury niggle away from a crisis. 

When Sergio Aguero missed Saturday's fixture for Manchester City, Pep Guardiola's side scored seven. Chelsea, by contrast, wilted entirely without their star frontman.

Michy Batshuayi has popped up with important goals, notably to win the title at West Brom and to seal victory at Atletico. Yet Conte clearly does not trust the striker to last the distance during a major game. 

When Morata was injured against City early on, Conte preferred to play without a striker than offer Batshuayi a chance and on Saturday, the Belgian played only 57 minutes before being substituted.

He subsequently cursed to the heavens and through a minor hissy-fit on the touchline. It was clear in the summer that Conte wanted a different man, notably Fernando Llorente, and now he is being proved correct in his judgement.


 

4. Flimsy title defence

No side has successfully defended the Premier League title since Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United in 2009 and we are coming up to a decade. 

To win consecutive Premier League titles, with the resources of the clubs at the top of this division, appears ever more difficult. 

Since the start of the Premier League era, only Ferguson and Jose Mourinho have achieved the feat. Yet there are title defences and then there are Chelsea title defences. 

Chelsea's mentality was severely questioned two years ago, when Mourinho's all-conquering champions suffered the most extraordinary meltdown. 

Conte warned in pre-season that his team would not endure another 'Mourinho season'. With his team nine points off the pace and 20 behind Manchester City on goal difference, Conte's words may yet come back to haunt him.


 

5. Predictability

Chelsea's 3-4-2-1 formation stunned the Premier League last season and over the past year nearly every side in the division have trialled the system at one point or another. 

Conte changed the way managers think but now English football is used to the formation and Chelsea are struggling for a Plan B. Does Conte have another trick up his sleeve to change matters up? 

It may be that the system yields more success in Europe, where more clubs are unfamiliar with the benefits of the formation.


 

It has a combination of all and all parties involved but primarily it's f**kup in the transfer window where the board has to be majorly blamed for. And Predictability would follow it where the manager & the players are at blame. I was expecting Conte to take the 3-4-3 to another level in terms of tweaks like the Atl. Madrid game but it is so far less. Plus the fact we arent doing our homework well. 

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I love Conte my favourite manager since Vialli he comes across as 100% genuine and not a conniving cockroach like Mourinho. But questions have to be asked. Every game we lose we get outclassed almost to the point of embarrassment (maybe not Saturday but we were piss poor). Arsenal 3-0, Spurs 2-0, Man United 2-0, the cup final and against Man City a couple of weeks ago. All of these games we were second best by miles and never looked like we would get anything out of them. We capitulated after Sanchez scored in the cup final dodgy goal or not and Arsenal could have easily got five or six.

There is also the tendency to play long ball and at times we look bereft of ideas the City game was painful to watch Conte made bad choices in the starting line up and then the substitutions. I'm not a knee jerk sort of geezer I've seen enough shit Chelsea teams over the years but I am a little nervous. 

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14 hours ago, LDN Blue said:

Tbh, what manager right now does? Pochettino seldom shows tactical flexibility, if anything Conte showed he's more agile there when we played Spurs and he went with diamond formation. Granted his hand was forced by needing to draft Luiz in a DM. But he still managed to out-whit MP. 

Mourinho we know has no plan B. He has only one plan game-to-game as he showed vs Liverpool (Lmao the irony United fans are now defending 'park the bus'). So unless you're going to name me a manager outside the PL, I struggle to see anyone who every implements a plan B or C. 

We played park the bus tactics a few times last season... Just when you win games like against Man City last season away you try to hide that... But if we didn't win that game we would all be having a go at Conte for parking the bus. Also Man City at home this season... We did park the bus. Conte is not more attacking coach compared to Jose.

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9 hours ago, 11Drogba said:

And saying "of course there will be better options" without giving even one name isnt simplistic I guess. 

Would you have named Conte in 2015? It's not my job to identify managers.

12 hours ago, Jason said:

But sooner or later, we're gonna run out of good managers, if we haven't already. Conte hasn't helped himself with some poor decisions this season but it's obvious that he's trying to extract as much as possible out of this flawed squad. Any other manager would likely be struggling as well and worse, they might even be clueless like AVB, Scolari or Grant.

We won't, theres many top managers around, if the big names are unavailable it will require a bit of thinking outside the box like Spurs did with Poch. I hope Conte finds a way round this, but if the worst comes to the worst and his tenure collapses beyond repair, it's not in anyone's best intrest's to cling on.

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1 hour ago, Tautvix said:

We played park the bus tactics a few times last season... Just when you win games like against Man City last season away you try to hide that... But if we didn't win that game we would all be having a go at Conte for parking the bus. Also Man City at home this season... We did park the bus. Conte is not more attacking coach compared to Jose.

Think people have become confused with the whole 'park the bus' approach. Not saying Conte hasn't been pragmatic in the big games but the difference between him and Mourinho is that while we do tend to be defensive against the big sides, we at least maintain some degree of attacking/counter-attacking threat under Conte. With Mourinho, there were so many games where we barely posed a threat and were happy to concede possession just so we stayed defensively solid to make sure we get that draw. Heck, I still remember we went to Basel(!!!), under Mourinho, and played so defensive that we had only ONE shot the entire game when months before that, we did a job on them under Benitez. Conte is pragmatic like Mourinho but in no way is he as defensive/negative as him. And just look at this stat of Mourinho...

 

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14 hours ago, Jason said:

But sooner or later, we're gonna run out of good managers, if we haven't already. Conte hasn't helped himself with some poor decisions this season but it's obvious that he's trying to extract as much as possible out of this flawed squad. Any other manager would likely be struggling as well and worse, they might even be clueless like AVB, Scolari or Grant.

The only manager I can think of is Sarri of napoli. Attacking football, develops players and wins matches. But I hope conte turns this around and this second season after winning the premier league syndrome doesnt happen at Chelsea again

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1 hour ago, Tomo said:

Would you have named Conte in 2015? It's not my job to identify managers.

I actually did write here in 2015 that Conte would be the best choice for us.

Yes it is not your job to sack or hire managers. I am just saying what you wrote was even more simplistic than fernandos question.

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1 hour ago, Tomo said:

We won't, theres many top managers around, if the big names are unavailable it will require a bit of thinking outside the box like Spurs did with Poch. I hope Conte finds a way round this, but if the worst comes to the worst and his tenure collapses beyond repair, it's not in anyone's best intrest's to cling on.

Name some names. Would like to see who you have in mind.

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