For the second consecutive summer, Chelsea made two first-team signings on deadline day in an attempt to appease Antonio Conte’s not-at-all unreasonable demands for squad reinforcement.
But whereas in 2016, both Marcos Alonso and David Luiz proved surprisingly pivotal acquisitions who made tremendous impact on Chelsea’s eventual title-winning season, neither Danny Drinkwater nor Davide Zappacosta have established themselves as key players this season. They may have been signed to be backups, but even in that regard their contributions have been minimal.
Drinkwater arrived injured, then picked up several more injuries along the way, which certainly haven’t helped. Zappacosta meanwhile had to deal with not only stepping up from the Serie A to the Premier League, but had to adjust to living in a new country. The 25-year-old right back fortunately does claim that he’s now adjusted to his new surroundings — incidentally, if Instagram is anything to go by, one of the biggest factors in that adjustment has been his budding bromance with fellow Serie A import (sort of) Álvaro Morata.
“Everything changed for me after the move, especially from the climate point of view. But since I’ve been here, I have got to know a lot of Italians in the area I live. I have started to feel at home here and they have helped me integrate into the society and London life. I have to say I feel really well here.”
One of the Italians met by Zappacosta must have been head coach Antonio Conte, who was once reportedly also having problems adapting to the new country. This was sorted out in October last year, with Conte’s wife and daughter now living with him near Chelsea’s training ground.
But the life of the manager is one of instability. An almost semi-nomadic life style, we could say, in which you could be well settled in a place during summer and packing your bags mid-winter or much earlier depending solely on what you can squeeze out of a group of young millionaires chasing and kicking a ball for a living.
Having worked with his fellow countryman for almost an entire season, Zappacosta is probably one of the players who definitely does not want to see the coach moving away when the summer arrives. He is all compliments with regards to Conte’s work at the club.
“The coach is really important for us. He’s worked in a really good way for Chelsea since the start of the season. He is focused on us and his objective is to keep on winning with Chelsea. He always tries to work in the best way for us.”
“He is a good coach, a football teacher who makes you plan in a good way. He gives you advice to make sure you are in exactly the right way on the pitch. He is able to give you the strength of character to build your confidence.”
To avoid the worst not only in terms of Conte’s destiny but also in terms of the club’s, Chelsea will have to keep their 28-year unbeaten streak versus Tottenham at the Bridge intact, preferably taking all three points from the encounter as well. Anything else would surely mean doom for everyone involved.
“For sure, the Spurs game is an important match. We’re preparing in the best way we can. We know about Harry Kane but they have a lot of difficult players to face and we must pay a lot of attention to them. A good result could make a real difference to us at the end of the season.”
-Davide Zappacosta; Source: Daily Mail
Zappacosta may or may not start — it’s anyone’s guess whether it’s him or Victor Moses who is the first-choice right back, and that’s not necessarily a compliment — but there’s no time like the present to make a real difference on the pitch.