Joe Prince-Wright

Furious Conte has huge challenge to transform Chelsea

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LONDON — Antonio Conte almost shook with rage as he addressed the media post-game at the Emirates Stadium.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

The Italian manager isn’t used to losing games.

In fact, Chelsea’s humiliating 3-0 defeat at Arsenal on Saturday was the first time since 2009 that he’s lost two-straight league games as a manager. All is not well.

Speaking after the game, Conte’s voice became louder and louder as he discussed Chelsea now being a “great team only on the paper” and not on the pitch.

“We must work a lot. If someone thinks this season it is easy, we must work a lot to improve and to change the situation. I think that now we are a great team only on the paper. Not on the pitch,” Conte said. “To be a great team, I prefer to be a great team not only on the paper but also on the pitch because the pitch speaks. The pitch is the truth. The pitch is the most important thing for us. Not the words. Not the paper. We must change this. We must change this. Last season was a bad season. Last season we were a great team on the board. This season we want to be a great team on the pitch but we know there are many difficulties. If we understand this we are in a good position to recover and to change the situation.”

After three wins to open the Premier League season, Chelsea were tipped for great things. After two consecutive defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal we shouldn’t dismiss their title hopes either but Conte is concerned about his teams defensive display once again.

Chelsea has now conceded at least two goals in each of their last four games — a 2-2 draw at Swansea, 2-1 loss against Liverpool, 4-2 win against Leicester in the EFL Cup and the 3-0 hammering at Arsenal — and Conte stood with his arms crossed for most of the first half. He usually charges up and down the line, urging on his players. Not on Saturday. He looked embarrassed by the defensive errors.

Gary Cahill was inexplicably caught in possession by Alexis Sanchez for Arsenal’s first goal and his full backs were dragged out of position on multiple occasions as Branislav Ivanovic had a particularly bad evening. His defenders keep on making huge errors and it is something which has to change if Chelsea is going to challenge for the title this season. Right now John Terry‘s absence through injury is a huge loss as the veteran is by far Chelsea’s best center back.

In the second half of the London derby humbling at Arsenal, things got so bad that Conte changed from a 4-1-4-1 formation to a 3-5-2. That system is one he mastered with Juventus and the Italian national team over the past few years.

As a proud Italian coach who, like many of his countryman, prides himself on having a good defensive organization, Conte was seething with rage when asked if Chelsea were ready to switch to a 3-5-2 system permanently.

“I have to solve the situation. That is the most important thing. The situation is that every game we concede two goals, at a minimum,” Conte said, furiously. “For this reason, three back or two back or four back, I don’t care. It is important to solve the situations. I must find the right solution for this team because in every game we are conceding two goals. I work a lot to find the right solution.”

Conte will try to lift his squad as the Italian manager said the players and management win and lose together, a philosophy he has always had in his playing and coaching days. However, we are getting an increasing sense that he knows he has a huge challenge on his hands to transform Chelsea who are now eight points behind leaders Manchester City after six games of the season.

“The title? I think we must work a lot to find a continuity. I think that now the most important thing is to work and don’t think about other situation,” Conte said. “I repeat, we must show on the pitch to be a great team because Chelsea is a great team on the paper.”

ProSoccerTalk asked Conte about yet another slow start for his side as he bemoaned them throwing the game away in the first half against Arsenal and against Liverpool last Friday.

Why this is happening?

“I was a footballer and it happens in one game. It can happen,” Conte said. “You don’t have a good performance for many reasons. I hope to improve this situation because this is the second consecutive defeat after Liverpool. They are great teams, Liverpool and Arsenal. We must reflect on this because we had two defeats in two big games. For this reason we must be humble and understand the moment. To understand we need to work a lot and improve to change our story.”

Three things we learned from Arsenal’s win vs. Chelsea

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LONDON — Arsenal shellacked Chelsea 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, with first half goals from Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil doing the damage.

[ MORE: United humble Leicester ]

Arsene Wenger had gone nine games without a win against Chelsea but in the same week he celebrates 20 years in charge at Arsenal, his side put in a dominant display to make it four wins on the spin in the Premier League.

Here’s what we learned from the Emirates after an embarrassing encounter for Chelsea and a wonderful result for Arsenal.


ARSENAL END HOODOO IN STYLE

As bad as Chelsea’s defending was, this is what Arsenal can do to teams. The Gunners totally dominated Chelsea in the first half and it could’ve been more than 3-0 at half time. With Alexis Sanchez through the middle, Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi on the wings and Mesut Ozil in the hole, Arsenal’s offense was balanced, dangerous and too quick for Chelsea to handle.

This game reminded me of Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Manchester United at the Emirates last season. They blew away United with a blistering first half performance and it was eerily similar on Saturday. The result was never in doubt from 14 minutes in which was a huge relief for Arsenal, who haven’t beaten Chelsea in their last nine attempts in the PL and haven’t scored in their last six games against their London rivals. The ended their hoodoo in sensational fashion.

With a run of four-straight wins in the Premier League, the Gunners have rebounded well from their opening day defeat against Liverpool. With a UEFA Champions League clash against FC Basel on Wednesday, Wenger’s boys are finding form and his squad looks strong with Olivier Giroud, Lucas Perez, Granit Xhaka and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all on the bench. Suddenly, the boo boys have quietened down and Arsenal will have the bragging rights with their illustrious London rivals for the first time in a long time. The Gunners simply hammered Chelsea. This win has been a long time coming.


3-5-2 MIGHT HELP CHELSEA’S BLUNDERING DEFENSE

Antonio Conte stood with his arms folded for most of Chelsea’s first half collapse. He looked like a broken man.

Conte prides himself on defensive solidity, as most Italian coaches do, and his Chelsea team are gifting goals to opponents every time they walk on the pitch at the moment. In their last four games they’ve conceded nine times, with at least two goals given up in each games. Against Swansea City it was Gary Cahill and Thibaut Courtois at fault. Against Liverpool it was Cahill again. Against Arsenal it was Cahill for the first and Branislav Ivanovic had a horrid evening. Even when you look back to the start of the season, Chelsea leaked goals against West Ham and Watford with very poor defending. It can’t continue if they’re going to be successful.

Simply put, Chelsea can’t wait for John Terry to return. Their 35-year-old captain and talisman has been sorely missed over the past three games and Cahill looks like he could be the odd man out. In the second half Conte switched to a 3-5-2 formation with 35 minutes to go and his side looked slightly more solid which wasn’t difficult after the first half.

Conte likes to play a 3-5-2. He mastered it with Juventus and Italy and it would be a shock to not see Ivanovic, Terry and David Luiz at center back in their next game. Silly defensive errors are ruining Chelsea’s good start to the season. The Italian manager has now lost two-straight league games for the first time since 2009 and he will be hurting. If his team at Chelsea is to be a success then he must tighten up his defense.


NEW DEALS FOR ALEXIS, OZIL A MUST

Arsenal’s third goal (see above) epitomized why they must break the bank to keep Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil around. Wenger has spoken many times about ongoing negotiations with Arsenal’s two marquee attackers but the longer it goes on, the more worried Arsenal’s fans should get.

It seems like there are now weekly reports that Sanchez, 27, is interesting Manchester City as the man who brought him to Barcelona, Pep Guardiola, is eager to take him to City. Now, it is unlikely Arsenal, in their current financial situation, will allow Sanchez to leave for City but it is understood he wants a buy-out clause in any new deal. Ozil is said to be more relaxed about signing a new deal but there’s no doubting that performances like this highlight just how important these two are to Arsenal.

Sanchez has now scored four goals in his last four games for the Gunners and he may well be their most important player but Ozil is a close second. With Sanchez’s electric pace and Ozil’s trickery, they are the perfect combo. Wenger and the directors at the Emirates Stadium must tie these two down to new long-term deals as soon as possible.

BONUS: Theo Walcott was sublime in what was one of his best-ever performances for Arsenal. He scored a goal, ran tirelessly down the right flank an looked dangerous whenever he ran at Chelsea’s defense. Now, all he needs to do is stay injury free.

Pochettino urges unbeaten Spurs to be more ruthless

MIDDLESBROUGH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24:  Mauricio Pochettino, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur looks on during the Premier League match between Middlesbrough and Tottenham Hotspur at the Riverside Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Middlesbrough, England.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
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Tottenham Hotspur remain unbeaten in the Premier League with 14 points from their opening six games, but Mauricio Pochettino isn’t totally satisfied.

[ MORE: 3 things from United-Leicester ]

Spurs beat Middlesbrough 2-1 at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday as Heung-Min Son scored twice in the first half but in the second half they took their foot of the gas and failed to put the game to bed.

Without the injured Harry Kane Spurs created plenty of chances but Vincent Janssen once again failed to find the net in the Premier League, while Boro’s Ben Gibson scoring in the second half to make it closer than it should’ve been for Tottenham.

Speaking to the BBC after the game, Pochettino revealed his frustration.

“We fully deserved the result, the most important thing is the victory. Son was fantastic but it was a collective effort,” Pochettino said. “The first half was great and we should have scored more than two. We need to learn to be more aggressive and clinical.”

With Kane likely out injured for at least 6-8 weeks, Pochettino will hope attacking midfielders like Son, Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela chip in with goals until Kane returns. Son has played his part with four goals in his last three games and the South Korean has now scored six goals and added an assist in his last seven PL games.

Janssen will be the main man to carry the goalscoring burden in Kane’s absence but the Dutchman has shown signs of failing to cope with the pace of the Premier League. After playing in Holland and only bursting into the Dutch top-flight last season, it will take Janssen time to adapt.

Spurs almost let their 2-0 lead slip on Saturday at Boro and Pochettino knows if they want to challenge for the title again this season his young side must be more ruthless in front of goal.

LIVE – Arsenal battering hopeless Chelsea 3-0 at half time

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Arsenal is on a roll.

After three-straight wins in the Premier League, Arsene Wenger‘s side came flying out of the traps and were 2-0 up inside the first 14 minutes against Chelsea on Saturday thanks to goals from Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

A sublime counter then saw Mesut Ozil add a third as the Gunners were rampant and Chelsea’s defense was shambolic.

Click play on the video above to watch Gary Cahill have a nightmare for Arsenal’s opener, while you can also click on the link above to stream the game live.

Bournemouth 1-0 Everton: Stanislas screamer downs Toffees

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  • Cherries grab 2nd win of season
  • Stanislas scores screamer
  • Everton lose first PL game of season
  • Wilshere hit crossbar

Bournemouth beat Everton 1-0 at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday as the Cherries secured their second win of the season.

Junior Stanislas scored the only goal of the game midway through the first half and it was one to remember with a wonderful drive from distance. Everton rarely threatened as Ronald Koeman suffered his first Premier League defeat as Toffees boss.

With the deserved win Bournemouth move on to seven points for the season, while Everton remain on 13.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

It was a lively start down on the south coast as Callum Wilson flicked a header just wide and at the other end an Everton cross almost found Ross Barkley free in the box.

Things settled down after that frantic start but Bournemouth went close to going ahead as Jack Wilshere‘s shot deflected off Phil Jagielka and hit the crossbar.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Soon the Cherries were ahead as Stanislas struck a shot from 25 yards out which flew into the net to put the home side ahead. 1-0 to Bournemouth.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]  

In the second half Everton pushed hard for an equalizer as Barkley headed just wide from Seamus Coleman‘s cross.

Substitute Gerard Deulofeu then whipped in a dangerous ball but Artur Boruc saved well as the Cherries battened down the hatches for the final minutes of the game but looked dangerous on the break.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Despite Everton throwing everything they had at Bournemouth, the Cherries held on for the win and inflicted Koeman’s first defeat as Everton boss in the PL.