Chelsea will enter the final few months of the season vying to finish in the Premier League’s top four and win the FA Cup. The spotlight will be firmly on their key players and their under-fire manager Antonio Conte.
Here are the five things to watch out for at Stamford Bridge after the international break:
#1 Morata’s form
The out-of-form striker ended his 13-game goal drought when he found the back of the net during his sides FA Cup win at Leicester last Sunday. Although Morata hasn’t scored a Premier League goal since the turn of the year, his well-taken strike at the King Power Stadium will have given him a massive confidence boost. After the international break, the Spaniard will be expected to kick on and relive his form from the early part of the Premier League season. However, another poor showing could result in Morata losing the backing from some of his own fans.
#2 The return of Luiz?
It is no secret that Conte has fallen out with David Luiz this season with the Brazilian hardly featuring in the Italian’s plans. It is stated that Luiz is currently nursing a knee injury and could potentially return to action after the international break. The big question is, with the emergence of Andreas Christiansen, will Conte bring Luiz back into the fold or will he continue to snub him from the matchday squad altogether? The Stamford Bridge faithful will no doubt want to see the ball playing defender return to action because it would help them in their quest to finish in the top four.
#3 Tottenham to end Chelsea’s season?
When the boredom of the international friendlies are over, Chelsea will be hosting their bitter rivals Tottenham at Stamford Bridge. Mauricio Pochettino’s side are currently five points ahead of their London counterparts in the table and they have the chance of putting their neighbours out of site in the race for the Champions League places. A defeat, particularly, in front of their own supporters, is unthinkable for Conte because it would send the club into meltdown mode again.
#4 FA Cup
Following their Premier League triumph last term, Conte has a chance to add another trophy to Chelsea’s cabinet after they progressed to the semi-finals of the FA Cup. Their win at Leicester earned them a showdown against relegation-threatened Southampton, who recently appointed Mark Hughes as their new manager. With the possibility that the Blues could finish outside the top four places, another trophy may not save Conte’s job, but it could see his reputation remain intact.
#5 Any chance of Conte staying?
Many supporters expect the fiery Italian to leave the club in the summer, with others predicting that he could even depart before the final game of the season. Conte’s relationship with the Chelsea board has been frosty, to say the least, he could be sacked in the next few months or he could walk, just like he has done in previous jobs. However, if he steers his side to a top-four finish and brings home the FA Cup, could he stay on? It would be a shock to many if he does and a delight to the Stamford Bridge supporters, who have backed him since day one. But, when your boss is Roman Abramovich, you should expect your p45 at any given moment.