Antonio Conte’s damning and withering verdict of Chelsea’s performance as they threw away two points against West Ham has left even more question marks hanging over his future - with any hope of Champions League football next season now looking forlorn.
Chelsea produced the kind of attacking performance in Europe that Manchester United fans were screaming for 24 hours earlier, but found centurion Lionel Messi was still too good for them, as they lost 3-0 in the Nou Camp in what was the harshest of Champions League lessons.
And then there were four. Four games and 12 points which Pep Guardiola and Manchester City require to make mathematically certain of the Premier League title after Bernardo Silva’s goal allowed his team to open up an 18-point lead at the top of the table.
Antonio Conte may have seen his long-running feud with Jose Mourinho come to an end at Old Trafford but it may also have been the afternoon when the Chelsea manager saw his team’s hopes of a Champions League place similarly disappear into thin air.
Eden Hazard maintaining his fitness and form is clearly key to Chelsea hanging on to the coattails of what passes for a title race this season. Getting him to stay at Chelsea long-term is central to any future success the London side might challenge for.
Eden Hazard scored twice as Chelsea battled to a 3-3 draw with Roma to stay top of Champions League Group C. Chelsea had surrendered a two-goal lead to trail 3-2 with 20 minutes remaining after former Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko’s quick-fire double.
If there was any tension remaining in the title race — and let’s be honest there wasn’t a lot — Chelsea’s comfortable victory over Middlesbrough has seen it totally evaporate and opened up an opportunity for Antonio Conte’s side to be crowned champions at West Brom on Friday before rivals Tottenham even kick a ball again.
Antonio Conte believes his team were title underdogs at the start of the season, damaged by a divisive and explosive year under Jose Mourinho in which they finished 10th and their manager was sacked, but it is pretty clear now that Chelsea will face the Special One at Old Trafford next weekend as champions-elect.
At 29, and with an astonishing 671 senior appearances for club and country already to his name, Cesc Fabregas insists he is facing new challenges under Antonio Conte and has pledged to remain at Chelsea for as long as the club wants him to stay.