Despite dominating every statistic (bar goals scored) versus Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge today, Chelsea contrived to drop three points thanks to two unlucky blunders at one end and Mamadou Sakho and Wayne Hennessey choosing to pick April 1st, 2017 as the highlight of their footballing careers at the other.
Having endured his second home loss in his first season at Chelsea, and the first in seven months, head coach Antonio Conte felt his team “deserved” a better result, especially in light of the clear penalty call missed by referee Craig Pawson, although Conte himself preferred not to complain about the mistake.
"I think today we deserved at least a draw. I don’t want to say a win, but at least a draw. We created many chances to score, we dominated the game against a very strong team with really good players. It’s a pity but it wasn’t our day."
"Honestly, at the moment I haven’t seen it. For sure there was something but it’s right to accept the decision of the referee."
The result was doubly unexpected given the extended rest of the international break, coupled with a largely healthy and confident squad. There was one enforced change however that was a talking point prior to the match. With usual right wing-back, Victor Moses ruled out due to injury, Conte chose to replace him with an even more attacking solution. Normally the right-sided inside forward, Pedro had a good game as the nominal wing-back, with Cesc Fàbregas slotting in as an attacking midfielder in his stead.
"Victor Moses is an important player because he’s having a great season but Pedro played very well in that wing-back position. As wingers, they are very offensive and that showed we wanted to play our football. Pedro had a very good game."
The loss, coupled with Tottenham's win over Burnley at Turf Moor, reduced Chelsea’s lead at the top of the table to “just” seven points. While still a comfortable advantage purely in terms of just points, tough challenges away both home and away this month, starting with the massive home tie against Manchester City on Wednesday.
"We have to play on Wednesday against Manchester City and we all know the strength of their team, but for now the most important thing is to rest and recover well. We must prepare in the right way."
"Every game will be very tough from now until the end, whether the opponent is Manchester City or a team fighting near the relegation zone. For [the media] it’s a good result because it makes the championship more interesting, but I always said the league is finished when mathematically you have won it, otherwise you must play every game to try to win because in England there are no easy matches."
-Antonio Conte; Source: Chelsea FC
Although the result did not meet our expectations today, the hustle and effort on the pitch from most of our players today was more than commendable. It just so happens that things were not meant to go our way today.