Antonio Conte celebrated the one-year anniversary of being announced at Chelsea head coach yesterday, and the turnaround he’s engineered at the club in the twelve months since has been nothing short of impressive. But after Saturday’s shock loss to Crystal Palace at the Bridge, it’s clear that the job this season is not yet done. More hard work is required.
“It’s not easy to accept the defeat, but defeat is a part of our job, of our culture. You must accept that, but also try in the future to avoid it. I know only one way: this is hard work. I don’t know another way.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC
Hard work, teamwork, commitment. We should be quite familiar with Conte’s tenets at this point, but they bear repeating.
“If you win or if you lose or draw, it doesn’t change our idea, our philosophy or our method. It is the same. We have watched the Palace game for the positive and the negative situations to try to improve for the next game.”
“We have to continue in the same way, working very hard and preparing the right way for every game, keeping the concentration. But at this point I am pleased with my players because I am always seeing great commitment.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC
These qualities will need to be in full effect tonight against pre-season title favorites Manchester City, who remain one of the most talented, if not the most talented squad in the league.
Date / Time: Wednesday, April 5, 20:00 BST; 3pm EDT; 00:30am IST (next day)
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Mike Dean
Forecast: Overcast but dry.
On TV: BT Sport 1 (UK); NBCSN, NBC Universo (USA); Star Sports Select HD2 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: BT Sport Live (UK); NBC Sports Live Extra, NBC Universo Now (USA); Hotstar (USA)
Chelsea team news: Conte’s monitoring two-three situations as far as player availabilities are concerned for this one, chief among which is the health of Victor Moses, who missed Saturday’s game and is likely out tonight as well. Pedro is expected to deputize once again.
The loss to Palace was only the second home defeat for Chelsea this season and the first since switching to a three-man defense seven months ago. During that time we had come to believe in Fortress Stamford Bridge once again — that feeling needs to be reinforced today.
That said, the Blues are seven points ahead in the title race at the moment, which gives plenty of margin for error for the final nine games of the season.
Manchester City team news: Manchester City have just one win in their last five matches in all competitions and have drawn three straight in the Premier League (where they’ve only won five of their last eleven games). Their 2-2 draw across town at Arsenal on Sunday confirmed the quality City possess in attack and lack in defence — qualities that have largely consigned them to fighting for a top four finish rather than the title itself.
Pep Guardiola will be without Bacary Sagna once again, which means that Jesus Navas might continue his Victor Moses-esque rebirth as an effective wing-back. The rest of the lineup is quite settled and scary. Guardiola did opt to match Chelsea’s 3-4-3 shape in the meeting earlier this season, so perhaps a tactical wrinkle or two awaits us once again.
View from the enemy: Bitter and Blue
Previously: Chelsea took full advantage of a bit of luck (that De Bruyne miss) to inflict a head-turning statement defeat on the home side at the Etihad in December.