Antonio Conte has done very little wrong since taking the reigns at Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2016. Having won the Premier League title in his debut season with a side who had just finished tenth, he wasted no time writing his name into Chelsea’s history books.
However, Conte is not above criticism. When he gets it wrong, us fans should not shy away from highlighting it – and we are not going to. Here’s three things that the Italian got wrong during the Blues’ stalemate with Arsenal on Sunday afternoon.
Starting Gary Cahill
Gary Cahill may be club captain following John Terry’s departure, but that does not mean he should be guaranteed a spot in Conte’s starting eleven when available. His recklessness cost us on the opening day against Burnley, and Antonio Rudiger has proven himself able to deputise in his absence. The German should have been given the opportunity to continue his run in the side at Cahill’s expense.
Dropping Tiemoue Bakayoko
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, of course, but it was clear from the first minute on Sunday that Chelsea were losing the midfield battle. N’Golo Kante and Cesc Fabregas as a partnership are far too lightweight to form a midfield on their own against a team of Arsenal’s quality. As soon as Bakayoko was introduced, we looked like a different team. He needs to be starting going forward.
Wrapping Eden Hazard in cotton wool
Eden Hazard has recovered from his ankle injury. After returning to fitness, he played 77 minutes against Gibraltar, 16 minutes against Greece, 12 minutes against Leicester City and 32 minutes against Qarabag. That’s a total of 137 minutes of action. It is difficult to understand why Conte waited until the 70th minute to introduce Hazard in a game as big as Sunday’s. He is our best player, and we’re a different team with him in the side.
Fingers crossed Conte learns from his mistakes and acts accordingly.