It’s easy to believe the FA Cup has lost a bit of its shine after Arsene Wenger lifted the famous trophy three times in four years but still lost his job because it was the ‘only’ thing he won; but that doesn’t mean there aren’t clubs going into this year’s third round desperate to reach Wembley.
Jose Mourinho has enjoyed some remarkable days at Stamford Bridge — in fact it took him 78 matches to even lose a game there as manager — but as he returns to west London with struggling Manchester United today, he will be aware of some pretty painful memories, not least two sackings after poor performances at a ground he once called home.
Following the traditional ‘slamming shut’ of the transfer window, albeit at the markedly un-traditional time — before a ball has been kicked in anger — attention can now turn to how teams will line up and not to what gaps still need to be filled.
Antonio Conte left Wembley with another piece of silverware and the love of the Chelsea faithful ringing in his ears on Saturday, the self-proclaimed “serial winner” who wore the look of a man who knows he is about to move on.
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.
Three goals from across that spectrum between ‘sublime’ and ‘ridiculous’ gave Tottenham their first away victory over Chelsea in almost 30 years, and allayed any fears that the Premier League champions might catch their London rivals in the race for continental qualification.
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.
The fortunes of Manchester City and Chelsea have followed vaguely parallel paths for much of the last five decades, but on the evidence of this match at the Etihad, the two clubs are heading in different directions right now.
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.