Conte kept up all night in effort to avoid Arsenal repeat
CHELSEA’S heavy defeat at the hands of rivals Arsenal will keep Antonio Conte up at night, such was the lesson his team received at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday in a rare yet worrying display of inept defending from his entire side.
The Italian’s angry halftime team talk did little to stem the flow of constant Arsenal attacks in the second half, and Chelsea were in a way lucky to escape the Emirates having conceded only three goals. Arsenal have experienced much worse in recent years when playing at the same level as Chelsea did, but that is no consolation for Conte.
“I don’t sleep, sure. I don’t sleep,” said Conte, having seen Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil all score to consign him to a second consecutive defeat in the Premier League.
“This is normal. After this game, this defeat, it’s normal for me not to sleep. Not only tonight, but for two nights. When I don’t sleep, I reflect. And it’s important to reflect.”
It was Gary Cahill who was at fault for Sanchez’s opener, his woefully under-hit backpass to Thibaut Courtois laying the ball on a plate for the Chilean to dribble through on goal and chip over the goalkeeper.
But his performance on the whole will be of great concern to Conte, with the England international showing no cohesion whatsoever with centreback partner David Luiz and Courtois.
Conte would not single out players though, despite the obvious concerns. “I don’t want to talk about defenders, midfielders or strikers,” he said.
“Because I think we lose and we win as a team. We must continue to think in the same way always, it is important. Today we understood – me first, then the players – that this league is very tough.”
The Italian’s reputation – one that sees him dish out the tongue-lashings more often than comforting arms around shoulders – ensured that the visitor’s dressing room was not a nice place to be in at halftime. But Conte insisted that, for now, that conversation will remain private.
That dissatisfaction was echoed in stand-in captain Branislav Ivanovic’s comments after the match, in which he admitted that the players didn’t believe in Conte’s plan from the opening whistle.
“We didn’t start the game in the way we wanted,” Ivanovic said, having led the side in John Terry’s absence.
“We didn’t believe in what we were doing at the beginning and we were punished. We have to be honest with ourselves and put more attention on the small details. We have to be more focused and concentrated on the game.”
What should be a simple trip to Hull next weekend now becomes a pivotal fixture for Conte.
Sure, he doesn’t have the defensive targets he asked for in the summer, but this side is good enough – on paper – to easily beat a Hull side who still have no permanent manager and have leaked four goals in their last two league matches.
Fail to beat the Tigers, and Conte will face unwelcome questions from one Roman Abramovich. – The Independent
place he had last year at West Brom,” Wenger said. “That’s the negative of the day.
“We don’t know if the damage is as big at the moment, we have to wait for 48 hours. But he left the stadium in a brace and I’m a bit worried for that.”
Coquelin was also on the receiving end of a late tackle from former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas that referee Michael Oliver spotted but elected to just warn the Spaniard rather than book him. Coquelin was left rolling in pain after being caught on his foot, but quickly got to his feet as play continued.
Apart from the injury to Coquelin, Arsenal emerged from the match with only positives to draw on, and striker Olivier Giroud also returned from his recent toe injury to come on as a secondhalf substitute for Alexis Sanchez after the Chilean scored his fourth goal in his last three matches to continue his rich vein of form. – The Independent Arsenal’s Francis Coquelin receives medical attention after sustaining an injury in their match against Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday. –