Nothing worked for Chelsea on Sunday. The title race has been resurrected, to go with the topical joke. (You know, Easter Sunday and all that.)
But Chelsea’s underperformance is no laughing matter. It’s one thing to lose a game. Every team loses a game every once in a while. The way Chelsea lost however is arguably the worst performance of the season. At no point in the game did the Blues look threatening. At no point did the attack look potent. At no point did the midfield look in control, or the defence look at all steady.
A huge reason for that is Mourinho’s spoiling tactics that we’re all too familiar with from “big games” of yore, but that doesn’t mean that the Chelsea players or coaches should be let off easily. Conte wasn’t shirking his responsibilities in the post-match interview.
“We didn’t play a good game, and United deserved to win the game because they showed more desire, ambition and motivation.”
“It’s very simple, but in this case it is the fault of the coach. It means the coach wasn’t able to transfer the right concentration, motivation, desire and ambition to win this game. The situation is simple today.”
Today, the situation may be simple. Tomorrow, when the learning begins anew, it surely will not be. New solutions must be found. Old solutions must be improved. We probably are not in need of drastic changes (unlike after the 3-0 defeat to Arsenal early in the season), but there are a few systemic issues in all phases of the game (certainly on today’s evidence) that need to be ironed out.
“It’s important to understand what was wrong today and then restart together. I repeat the fault is mine.”
It’s also important to not lose our heads, despite a second defeat in four games. The lead for the title is still safe.
“I have confidence in myself and in my players and the club. This is not the first time we face this type of situation. We must be proud to have this type of situation.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC
Enthusiasm, passion, and a will to fight and win will be crucial in the remaining six games, according to Conte. We saw not much of any of that on Sunday. That cannot happen again. (Well, it can happen once more since we still have a four-point lead, but I’d rather we not test those boundaries.)
A dress rehearsal will be held on Saturday in the FA Cup semifinal, the outcome of which could have far-reaching psychological effects beyond just a spot in the final itself.