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.
Antonio Conte could never be accused of overhyping Chelsea’s chances of retaining their Premier League title, but the manager’s reaction to Saturday’s defeat at Crystal Palace only underlined the scale of the task confronting the defending champions.
They are supposed to be embroiled in yet another ‘crisis’ at Stamford Bridge, but a dramatic victory over London rivals Tottenham at Wembley, inspired by two-goal Marcos Alonso, showed pretty emphatically that the Chelsea spirit is very much alive, even in the post-John Terry era.
The opening weekend of the season may be too early to talk of a crisis, but the mood music around Stamford Bridge is not good and Saturday’s humiliation by Burnley was not out of character from a club that has appeared dysfunctional since before becoming champions last May.
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?
The 2017-18 season launches into the finishing straight this weekend — or ‘squeaky bum time’ as Alex Ferguson used to call it — but for anyone hoping to change their season in the space of six games the omens do not look favourable, writes.
Chelsea have dealt Tottenham Hotspur a second painful blow in the space of four days as they followed an FA Cup semi-final victory over their rivals with a Deigo Costa-inspired 4-2 win against Southampton which extends their lead at the top of the Premier League to seven points.