Last night, against Huddersfield Town, Antonio Conte chose to make six changes to the starting eleven that had beaten Liverpool, on Sunday.
One was enforced, with Courtois having picked up an injury meaning Caballero had to start.
The other five though can only be put down to the Italian with the changes being as thus:
• Christensen in for Cahill
• Zappacosta in for Moses
• Pedro in for Hazard
• Willian in for Bakayoko
• Morata in for Giroud
Now, on paper, you’d expect the starting eleven that Conte selected to beat a Huddersfield Town side that, until last night, were in danger of being relegated.
But it just didn’t happen, did it?
Huddersfield frustrated Chelsea by getting numbers behind the ball whilst Chelsea’s build-up play wasn’t quick enough to unsettle a Huddersfield defence that had already shown their resilience by grinding out a 0-0 draw against Manchester City, last time out.
However, it has to be said that too many in the Chelsea starting eleven didn’t do themselves justice.
Pedro looked a shadow of the player we saw last season.
Willian, after probably being our best player since the turn of the year, appears to have lost form after not being a regular in the starting eleven in the last few games.
Morata doesn’t look a £60 million striker, despite his bright start to the season.
Fabregas, although busy, looks a fading force.
Caballero should surely have done much better when it came to the Huddersfield goal.
There’s probably other who also warrant criticism but the above, I’d hope, proves my point.
Since the win at Southampton, where Chelsea came back from 2-0 down to win 3-2, Conte has played a fairly settled side and Chelsea’s results have benefitted from it.
Last night, Conte took a gamble, rolled the dice and lost.
As a result, Chelsea’s chances of Champions League football are all but over.
To qualify for the competition next season we have to win away at Newcastle on Sunday whilst hoping Liverpool lose at home to Brighton and Hove Albion, an unlikely scenario in my opinion.
After the game, talking to the media, Conte remarked,
“We dropped many points this season.
“I’m realistic. I think at the end of the season you finish in the position that you deserve.
“If we stay fifth in the table it means we deserve to stay in this position.”
It probably does, the legendary Brian Clough, when asked if his Nottingham Forest deserved to be relegated suggested that the table doesn’t lie.
But, tossing and turning in bed last night, I just couldn’t get it out of my mind that, last night against Huddersfield Town, Conte got it all wrong with his team selection and should have persisted with a settled eleven that has served him well recently.
Is it a conclusion you concur with?
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