Is Conte already on the brink?
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Premier League gameweek 6 results
Burnley 2 – 0 Watford
West Ham 0 – 3 Southampton
Man Utd 4 – 1 Leicester
Bournemouth 1 – 0 Everton
Liverpool 5 – 1 Hull
Middlesbrough 1 – 2 Tottenham
Stoke 1 – 1 West Brom
Sunderland 2 – 3 Crystal Palace
Swansea 1 – 3 Man City
Arsenal 3 – 0 Chelsea
Watford 3 – 1 Man Utd
The stand-out result from the above is surely Arsenal’s 3-0 demolition of Chelsea at the Emirates on Saturday evening. Even though the new Premier League season is 6 games in, the pressure is being heaped on Chelsea’s new Italian coach Antonio Conte after a couple of disastrous defeats in the last couple of weeks.
There are several factors which contribute towards why Chelsea have been so poor over the last few weeks. Their defence – an area in which Antonio Conte’s Juventus team was so formidable, has been all over the place this season. The absence of John Terry through an ankle injury which has ruled him out of their last 2 Premier League games, both of which they have lost, is arguably the biggest reason as to why their defence has been so poor. David Luiz never has been and never will be a top class centre half and Gary Cahill – at fault for Arsenal’s opener Satutrday – has been exposed brutally without Terry organising and marshalling next to him. Branislav Ivanovic also looks as if he is on the decline on the right side of the defence – he was torn to shreds by Arsenal’s impressive looking forward line on the weekend. Whether Kurt Zouma would sort out their defensive issues when he returns from injury remains to be seen, but I believe they lack a real top class center half – a Chiellini or Bonucci type.
Another reason as to why I believe they are struggling is the balance of their midfield. Again, at Juventus, Conte preferred hard working, hard running midfielders who have a spark of brilliance in them to turn the game – Pogba, Vidal, Pirlo among others provided the base for Carlos Tevez and others to score the vital goals. At Chelsea, Conte has struggled to replicate this. On his day, Eden Hazard is a world class player – with directness, pace and an eye for goal putting him up there with the best around. Unfortunately we have not seen this from him for over a year now and the club have suffered as a result of it. Nemanja Matic, as good as he is defensively, is not going to single handedly win you games and Fabregas is another one who can be world class, but we have not seen it for a long time now.
Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan was heavily linked with a move to Chelsea in the summer, but opted to stay in Italy. A player who’s characteristics would fit in to a Conte midfield, he is a player who will Chelsea will surely go back in for in January, should Conte still be there.
Roman Abramovich has proved time and time again that he is not afraid of making big decisions and sacking managers when results are poor – Carlo Ancelotti was given the boot the year after winning a double in his first season – whether he is seriously considering Conte’s future already is very doubtful, but he needs to turn around this current form and he needs to do it quickly. I believe Conte is a top manager and needs to be given the time to mould the club to how he wants it to look like but a big challenge lies ahead. Conte recently said he was “losing sleep” over his sides recent form – he will be hoping to get a good night’s sleep very soon.
As poor as Chelsea were – Arsenal were fantastic. Playing Alexis Sanchez through the middle as their main striker is proving to be a masterstroke by Wenger, with the opening goal reminiscent of a Thierry Henry style finish when he was at the club. In Mustafi and Koscielny, they now have one of the best central defensive partnerships in the league – Mustafi was excellent against the club’s arch enemy Diego Costa on Saturday, winning everything. With Mesut Ozil pulling the strings and Granit Xhaka looking more and more settled, Saturday’s performance gives fans real belief that this could finally be their year. They just need to find the consistency in games they are expected to win in order to mount a credible title challenge now.
Just one more quick note on Hector Bellerin – one of my favourite players in the league – how quick was he to make that recovering tackle in the second half to reach Costa?! Frightening.
Elsewhere in the Premier League
Spurs keep up their superb early season form with a brace from Heung Min Son, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool continue with their transformation under his guidance with an easy 5-1 win at home to Hull, Manchester United hit their stride and thump defending champions Leicester 4-1 – with Paul Pogba opening his goalscoring account, City make it 6 out of 6 with a victory away at struggling Swansea, who are expected to give Ryan Giggs the manager’s job should they part ways with boss Guidolin.
Roundup of results in Europe
Cristiano Ronaldo gets substituted for tactical reasons for the first time in his career in the 2-2 away draw in Las Palmas, Barcelona win 5-0 away from home at Sporting Gijon, an Antoine Griezmann goal saw off Deportivo La Coruna at the Calderon
Bayern Munich maintain their 100% record with a hard fought 1-0 win over Hamburg away from home, who subsequently sacked Bruno Labbadia for the second time, Borussia Dortmund maintained their fine recent form with a 3-1 home win over Freiburg, much-fancied Schalke, who hired a new manager and broke their club record fee to sign Breel Embolo during the summer, made it 5 losses from 5 so far this season with a 2-1 defeat away to Hoffenheim.
Juventus stay top of the table with a 1-0 away win at Palermo, Napoli stay a point behind them in second place with a 2-0 home win to Chievo and AC Milan keep 3 clean sheets in successive league games for the first time in 3 years with a 0-0 draw away at Fiorentina. Inter Milan draw 1-1 at home to Bologna.
Unai Emery’s worrying start at PSG continues with a shock 2-0 defeat away to Toulouse, leaving them 4th in the table after 7 games played. Nice head to the top of the table with a 1-0 away win at Nancy, Marseille move away from the relegation spots with a 2-1 home win over Nantes, with on-loan Spurs striker/winger Clinton N’Jie scoring a great goal. Lyon’s woes continue with a 1-0 away defeat to Lorient, leaving them 9th in the table.
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