Antonio Conte has faced many problematic issues over the course of this campaign with the Italian verbally tussling with board members and his fellow managerial counterparts. It has been a mixed season for Chelsea, who have not been able to follow up on their title-winning season last term.
After their defeat to Manchester United on Sunday, the London club’s top four ambitions were dealt a blow and with a number of big fixtures coming up for the club, here are five problems facing Conte and his team:
#1 Too much reliance on Hazard
When Eden Hazard is on song you know Chelsea will be close to their best because they heavily rely on the Belgian winger. Over the course of the season, Hazard has bagged 15 goals and provided 11 assists for his side in all competitions. Alvaro Morata has scored 12 goals this term, but he has struggled since the turn of the year and Willian is the only other attacker performing on a consistent basis. Others have failed to deliver regularly and, as a result, Chelsea are too reliant on their star man. If the Blues want to finish in the top four then they will need more players to come to the party.
#2 Morata’s struggles
As mentioned above, Morata has struggled for form in recent months and that was evident at the weekend when Conte brought him into the side during the defeat against Manchester United. The Spaniard, who has not scored in the league since December, failed to provide any threat up front. He didn’t get on the ball as much, nor did he hold the ball up well, something January signing Oliver Giroud does very well. With a number of big fixtures coming up for Chelsea, including a trip to Manchester City this Sunday, it won’t be a surprise to see Giroud replace Morata in the starting XI.
#3 Midfield problems
Since selling Nemanja Matic in the summer, Chelsea have struggled in the middle of the park with N’Golo Kante the only one producing the goods on a consistent basis. The experienced Cesc Fabregas played well in the Champions League first-leg draw against Barcelona last week, but he hasn’t been doing it consistently enough. Danny Drinkwater, who started the clash at Old Trafford, has failed to find his feet since moving to Stamford Bridge in the summer. And, Tiemoue Bakayoko, has been a disastrous signing, thus far.
#4 Trouble on the road
With European football to contend with this season, Chelsea have, understandably, struggled to find consistency over the course of this campaign. On the road, they have lost seven matches in all competitions, including losing 4-1 away at Watford earlier this month and losing the crucial clash against United. They travel to Barcelona next week for the second-leg of their Champions League tie where they require a positive result. Conte’s side will need to show more grit and quality, compared to their previous away performances, if they are to leave the Nou Camp still in the competition.
#5 Top four danger
At this moment in time, Chelsea sit just outside of the Champions League places, two points behind fourth-placed Tottenham, four points behind Liverpool and a further six behind United. The London outfit play runaway leaders Manchester City next week, knowing further dropped points will dent their chances of finishing in the top four. The positive for Chelsea is that they still have to play both Spurs and Liverpool before the season ends, so victories in those games are vitally important.