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’s 4-0 victory at Brighton at the weekend has quietened the critics who suggested there was a crisis building at Stamford Bridge but it hasn’t ended speculation about their search for a striker after manager Antonio Conte challenged Michy Batshuayi to fill the void – but also left the door open for him to leave.
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.
Chelsea will reach a big moment in their history when they arrive at Wembley today not just because of the opportunity to complete a ‘Double’ but because it marks the first game in a new era without captain John Terry, the man behind so much of their modern success. So, the big question is who will step up to replace him?
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.
New season, same story. Diego Costa scored a late, late winner to get Antonio Conte’s reign off to a winning start, but controversy swirled round Stamford Bridge with unhappy West Ham supporters and staff claiming the Spain striker should have been sent off long before he put the ball into the net.
John Terry has a habit of hijacking title celebrations and this time it wasn’t even Chelsea’s party he gatecrashed as the defender took centre stage at Stamford Bridge to extend the soap opera around his future.