Chelsea have got 99 problems and finishing, or the quality of it, is definitely one. In a season where a wide array of things have gone wrong: getting injuries, referee calls not going our way and the complete breakdown of the working relationship between the board and Conte; it’s hard to imagine that our dismal defence of our Premier League could be attributed to any other factor... If not for our woeful finishing.
The facts of the matter are: Chelsea have created 360 chances in the league, City have created 379 chances; yet City have 33 more goals than us. Meanwhile, United have created 64 fewer chances than us but somehow, have 6 more goals. This wastage of chances wasn’t such a big concern in the beginning as Chelsea’s were defence was able to cope up with the opposition, for instance, in Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Manchester United earlier in the season, something similar happened.
As is visible in the previously linked highlights, great scoring chances were missed by Morata, Bakayoko, Hazard and Fabregas as Chelsea completely dominated the opposition. It didn’t hurt us because our defence and midfield coped with the opposition, as Lukaku didn’t even have a touch in our 6 yard box. This wasn’t a sustainable model however, as proven by Chelsea’s drastic drop in form since the New Year.
334 - Chelsea have created 334 chances in the Premier League this season, 49 more than they did at this stage last season; scoring nine goals fewer. Contrast.— OptaChelsea (@OptaChels) February 8, 2018
Chelsea had lost just four out of the first twenty-one matches in the league and since then, have gone to lose four in just our last eight games. If you don’t put away your chances, the opposition can and will punish you; and if Chelsea is to change the recent trend of draws and losses, we must improve and Conte seems to believe the same.
Speaking ahead of the Crystal Palace game, Conte spoke about his attacking options, improvements needed in that department and the need to reduce the mistakes which have been plaguing us in the past few weeks.
“When I talk about improvements of the players in general, you can improve in different aspects, not only on the pitch in the tactical and technical aspects. You can improve in everything and usually you improve when you have made a mistake.
“You have the opportunity to learn something and also to reflect on if you are making a mistake or not. But if there is nobody to tell you maybe you are making a mistake, it’s very difficult to understand if you are.
“Compared to the game against Barcelona we were not so good in possession and we missed a lot of last passes, we have to improve in terms of personality when there is pressure from the opposition but the tactics were the same as against Barcelona. We have to improve with the ball but despite this we had important situations but made a bad final decision, or the final ball was bad.”
You know what they say, you either win or you learn and Chelsea have been doing a lot of learning this season. Considering that it’s the final stretch of games and our entire season depends on it, maybe putting those learnings into effect will be a good idea, right? Sounds like a plan!
Conte also spoke about his striking options in detail but at the same time, refused to give too much away about who will actually start against Crystal Palace and the coming games. That wily ol’ fox!
“Olivier has specific characteristics; he’s a strong player, he has a lot of physicality and I think in some games it’s right to start with him, in others it’s right to start with Morata, in others it’s right to continue to play with Hazard as the number nine. Olivier played against West Brom from the start, he played against Hull and he came on in other games, but he’s ready.
“If I think it’s right for the team to play in this way it’s okay, otherwise I can take another decision to play with a striker. There are three players for two places, one has to go on the bench and I have to decide who.”
-Antonio Conte; Source: Chelsea FC
Let’s hope Conte’s decision is the correct one as Chelsea will need to be exceptional to close the 5 point gap against Spurs and if we’re to do that, our finishing must improve as that seems to be the biggest chink in our armour.