For the second time in the 2017 calendar year, Chelsea suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace, losing 2-1 on Saturday at Selhurst Park just like back in April at Stamford Bridge. Both defeats certainly had a decent sense of mischief from the football gods about them, but they also had a lot more to do with commitment, determination, “personality”, ambition, fight ... or the lack thereof. Conte often talks about such qualities when praising Chelsea; after Saturday’s performance, he had to talk about them in a much more negative sense.
“I think that today was a difficult game for us. Our start was poor and when you play against Crystal Palace you have to start with more personality, otherwise you allow your opponent to take confidence. We conceded the first goal, we were able to come back but in the last few minutes of the first half we conceded another bad goal and then it was very difficult for us.
“I wasn’t surprised because when you play a team who are fighting in the relegation zone I know the kind of atmosphere you have to face. Palace played with great intensity and fought for every ball, but I prefer to concentrate on my team. Every coach has to solve their own situation.”
Last time Chelsea lost two in a row, Conte exclaimed frustratedly that he did not have a magic wand to fix all of our problems. It turns out he was lying, and the 3-4-3 was that fix, which included a 13-match winning streak. Can’t really count on a similar club-record run to happen again, but the emphasis should still be on solutions rather than excuses.
“I don’t like to lose, especially twice in a row. For sure today my soul is bad and it will be difficult for me to sleep, but we must have the same sensation, me and my players, to turn a negative situation into a positive.
“...This season will be very difficult so we have to give 150 per cent, not just 100 per cent, like last season, because that’s not enough. We want to try to be competitive in all competitions but it won’t be easy. My job is to be focused on my work with my players and try to do our best. Now, for sure, it’s not an easy moment for us but I think it’s important to find a solution and not look for excuses.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC
There isn’t much time to look either, with another game coming up on Wednesday and then again on Saturday (both home). But as Conte says, now is the time to trust the players, trust the coaches, and support the team. It’s easy to despair and turn to anger. But we can work through this, together, as one.