Chelsea have drawn three games on the spin 0-0 for the first time in club history.
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They are looking solid enough defensively but with so many talented attackers their drought at the other end is concerning Antonio Conte as he said his players are “tired” from their recent run of four games in the last 10 days.
Speaking after the 0-0 draw with 10-man Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, Conte didn’t want to blame star striker Alvaro Morata who has now gone five games without a goal for Chelsea.
“I don’t think it is only Morata’s problem, also the other players, because we are not scoring goals, we are not conceding, but we are not creating chances,” Conte said.
The Chelsea boss also pointed to many of his team playing in midweek in a tight 0-0 draw against Arsenal in the first leg of their League Cup semifinal.
“I think we played with a lot of top players against Arsenal, and then again today against a very good team. I think a lot of our players were tired,” Conte said. “In the first half Leicester ran more than us, they played better than us. But we knew we were playing against a good opponent, maybe the worst opponent we could have played in this moment. We suffered a lot in the first half.”
Conte’s goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, had to be at his best to keep out Leicester and he admitted that the Foxes were the better team and fatigue played a big factor for Chelsea.
“Obviously we wanted to win the game, and at the end with 10-men we pressed them, but for 70 minutes of the game they were the better team,” Courtois said. “Obviously we all feel a little bit tired, last year we went from week to week, but now we have already played a lot of games. But it’s not excuse, Leicester had more intensity than us and more aggression, they started very offensive and pressed us high up the pitch.”
Chelsea’s poor run of form in front of goal has coincided with Conte’s public spat with Jose Mourinho plus reports regarding his future at the club beyond the end of this season, which seem to be ramping up the pressure on the Italian boss.
This season was always going to be tough for Chelsea after the won the PL in Conte’s debut campaign and didn’t have the distraction of European action.
With Eden Hazard cooling off in recent weeks following his fine recent form, plus Morata’s much talked about cold spell and the big chances he continues to miss, these lackluster displays will do nothing to halt the rumors that Chelsea’s hierarchy are lining up Luis Enrique and Max Allegri to take over in the summer.
Conte failed to totally commit his future to Chelsea when speaking to the media on Friday and the lackadaisical play of his team on Saturday seemed to add to the air of uncertainty around the club. The players being tired has been a go-to answer for Conte this season with Chelsea’s squad stretched to compete in all four competitions.
Let’s get this straight, Chelsea, the reigning champions of England, are in the semifinal of the League Cup, still in the FA Cup and are in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League. Yes, they could fall 18 points behind PL leaders Man City, but their main battle now is all about finishing in the top four.
This seems like a small blip for Conte, but we all know that Chelsea and their owner, Roman Abramovich, act ruthlessly when blips occur.
It’s easy to imagine Conte not being in charge of Chelsea for the third and final year of his current contract.