Chelsea Need to Rip the Blueprint Up and Start Afresh7 min read
Blues went down without a fight against Spurs
It had been 28 years since Chelsea had last lost to Tottenham Hotspur in the league at home. Given the Premier League is 26 years old, it is quite the achievement that the Blues had remained undefeated against Spurs for so long. However, as an embodiment of Chelsea’s second season under Antonio Conte, that record came tumbling down as Mauricio Pochettino’s men came to Stamford Bridge and conquered it in emphatic fashion.
Conte’s team had started off well, starting the game on the front foot, keeping possession tidily and creating space in-between Tottenham’s lines. The opening goal, scored by out-of-form Álvaro Morata, came in the 30th minute, and it was wholeheartedly deserved.
The Blues have endured a tumultuous season with the Italian manager at the helm, but when they went 1-0 up against the team they always beat at the Bridge; it looked a formality that they would see out the next 60 minutes of football and come away with the three points.
However, what happened next couldn’t have been further from this. Just as Chelsea were about to enter the dressing room at half time with a one-nil advantage, Christian Eriksen did what we have seen so often from him: score an outrageous thunderbolt that dumbfounded Willy Caballero and sailed into the back of the net.
That goal set the tone for the rest of the match, as Chelsea looked dazed and staggered entering the second half. The goal just before half time allowed Spurs to grow in confidence and none more so than Dele Alli. The Englishman might have been on the receiving end of harsh criticism for his performances this season, but he came up trumps when he found the back of the net twice in four minutes to put the game to bed.
Spurs turned it on quickly and efficiently, not allowing Chelsea to even comprehend what was going on before them. The speed in which Spurs attacked was quite frightening, and the Blues had no answer in how to stop the onslaught.
Conte no stranger to chaos
Conte has found himself in this position before. The game against Watford earlier this year, when Chelsea looked like they were coming back into the contest, quickly turned against him, as the Hornets score three goals in seven minutes. The look of exasperation and befuddlement on the Italian’s face is not a new one to the Chelsea fans.
It is no secret that Conte is on the verge of leaving the Blues and it is likely to become official at the end of the season.
Chelsea have sounded out the likes of Luis Enrique, currently the favourite to take over at , and Thomas Tuchel, , but the former has stalled negotiations for the time being and the latter is expected to takeover at Paris Saint-Germain starting next season. One choice that would be a superb appointment would be Massimiliano Allegri, priced at , but it remains to be seen whether the Italian will remain with Juventus or seek a new challenge.
Transfer strategy must change
There is going to be a summer of change at Stamford Bridge, especially with the club falling out of the top four, which, in turn, means they will not be competing in next season’s Champions League competition.
Not only does that mean attracting world-class talent is going to be more difficult than before, it also suggests that Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois, two players who wanted to see where the club finished this season before signing contract extensions, will likely angle for a move away from West London and find pastures anew.
Signing Danny Drinkwater from Leicester City and Ross Barkley from Everton, the latter who had been injured for months on end, was severely questioned by fans when they were announced. The Blues do have to fill a homegrown quota in their squad, but both players have underwhelmed drastically since arriving, and it doesn’t bode well looking to the future when acquiring world-class talent is likely to evade them.
Youth policy also needs rethink
Roman Abramovich, Chelsea’s Russian-born owner, has tightened the purse strings over the last 24 months, but is likely to have an ultimatum to make this summer: either continue to maintain a hold on spending and slowly fall down the pecking order of the Premier League, or get out of this rut and authorise an overhaul that allows fresh faces to come in that genuinely improve the squad.
What should also be made a priority is a slight shift in policy on youth. While Chelsea are not going to consider blooding youngster after youngster, they do possess some of the finest talent in the country, and need to start putting more faith in those players to come in from the academy and make the step up.
Whichever way you look at it, there will be a changing of the guard at Chelsea this summer. With the manager on his travels, this is the perfect time for the Blues to adapt to the times and start afresh with new ideas to transform themselves out of this slumber.