Roma 3 Chelsea 0: Antonio Conte’s return to Italy was not as he would have hoped

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte

Chelsea were thoroughly outclassed in their 3-0 defeat at the hands of Roma this week and fans must be starting to fear a repeat of the 2015/16 campaign. They went into that season as Premiership champions and were widely expected to defend their crown and challenge for top honours in Europe. Instead, they ended up hovering around the relegation zone for much of the season, Jose Mourinho was sacked and they ended up 10th in the table, while they were dumped out of the Champions League in the last 16 and fared no better in the cups. Could we be in for another implosion this time around? Will the Blues never enjoy two strong seasons in a row again?

Last season Chelsea recovered magnificently and won the title once more, as new manager Antonio Conte’s shift to a 3-4-2-1 formation saw them emerge as the best team in the land by some distance. They earned 43 more points than they did in 2015/16 and players like Eden Hazard and Gary Cahill were rejuvenated.

However, the wheels look like them might come off once again this season as they have already lost three times in the league – against lowly teams like Crystal Palace and Burnley – and are . They are faring better in the Champions League and should still make the knockout stage, but if they pull it off they will be grateful for the shocking form of Atletico Madrid, who have taken just three points from four games.

If they reach the last 16, Europe’s elite are hardly going to be quaking in their boots at the prospect of a clash with Chelsea. They were simply dreadful against Roma and look like they could be in for another miserable campaign on that evidence. Check out a and find the most competitive odds on the market and you will see that Chelsea are now all the way out at 25/1 to win the Champions League and they are also 25/1 to win the Premiership. That is a reflection of their poor start to the campaign and suggests they will have to write 2017/18 off as another season to forget.

They had a huge advantage in the title race last season as they were not competing in Europe, so they were fresher than the likes of Man City, Spurs, Man Utd and Arsenal every weekend. They no longer have that advantage, but in the modern day an elite club should have a squad that is deep enough to challenge on both fronts.

However, scratch beneath the surface and the Blues look thin on the ground. Their first team is strong, but their reserve team would probably lose to Man City’s, Man Utd’s and even Arsenal’s. They are badly missing . You could actually credit the Frenchman with their vast improvement last season as he won all three Player of the Year awards and was the driving force behind Chelsea’s success in his debut campaign for the Blues.

Blame can also be attributed to their summer recruitment efforts. Chelsea missed out on almost all of their top targets and the sight of Antonio Conte seething on the touchline cannot have installed his players with much confidence. They allowed Nemanja Matic to leave and now look extremely lightweight in midfield whenever Kante is absent. Against Roma, Timoue Bakayoko and Cesc Fabregas were outmuscled, outclassed and outmanoeuvred at every turn. Matic and his Man Utd teammates will fancy their chances of taking three points from Chelsea when they meet at the weekend as they will expect to win the battle in midfield.

The back three looks very ordinary without an effective screen – which Matic typically provided – and the Blues are conceding far more goals than they did last season. They also miss the aggression of Diego Costa up front, and Alvaro Morata’s goal drought is a worry. It is now highly likely that they will suffer another trophyless campaign. All in all, Chelsea fans must be willing the season to end so they can get back to winning ways in 2018/19.


Written by SoccerSouls

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