A superb ‘Man of the Match’ performance by Eden Hazard on Monday night gave Chelsea a much-needed succour after two heavy losses to Bournemouth and Watford, leaving Antonio Conte’s future at the Bridge hanging in the balance.
The 3-0 win would come as a huge relief for Conte and his team who face Barcelona next week in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League Round 16 and would improve the already gloomy atmosphere appearing over the club.
Things haven’t exactly gone in the club’s way, with Chelsea currently lying in fourth following a topsy-turvy season which has seen the club drop points unexpectedly. New signings are yet to blend with the rest of the squad.
Antonio Conte’s second season in charge of Chelsea started not quite the way he expected, with the club unable to sign major summer targets despite showing interest in a number of them, and bad results continue to fuel rumours of a sack. Amid the sack rumours, Luis Enrique has become the latest to be linked with Conte’s job.
The Italian is still tied to The Blues till 2019 according to his contract. Nevertheless, the current season has indicated that the former Juventus boss might not see out his contract with the English champions. Then, with seeming strained relationship with the board, he might well be out of the job by the end of the season.
Notwithstanding, Chelsea must trust the manager and hope that he turns around the current situation at the club. A successful season which saw Chelsea crown champions in grand style following a straight run of 13wins, following a rocky start to the season indicates that Conte is capable of improving the fortunes of the club and with Chelsea still in the FA Cup and Champions League, the Italian could spring surprises and create another major turnaround at the club.
Antonio Conte has had issues with the board over transfers, with the club unable to sign the manager’s top transfer targets and has had to make do with the available options he has been provided with. The Blues have added Emerson, Giroud and Ross Barkley from the January transfer window to a squad that lacked depth at the beginning of the season. Giroud’s performance against West Brom could give Antonio Conte the much-needed vibrancy upfront in the absence of Alvaro Morata.
Conte has shown the willingness to tweak and change formations, when results have not gone his way since his days from Juventus and with his success last season at Chelsea. The man who led Italy to Euros 2016, has done that this season, switching to a 3-5-2 formation, deploying Hazard as a false nine, a move which has not been totally successful in the campaign. Morata’s return and Giroud’s performance will give Conte the needed boost as he prepares to face his side for next week’s challenge.
The Blues currently lie in the fourth on the table, 19 points behind Manchester City and missed out on the Carabao cup final. The London based club still have a chance at silverware in the FA Cup and the Champions League, and would begin the hunt with a tie against Hull City at the weekend and Barcelona next week.
Conte faces a huge task of ending the season with at least a trophy, which a club like Chelsea hold in high esteem. And to keep his job, he must deliver. He has shown that he is capable and Chelsea must trust him.
Hull and Barcelona are obstacles to ending the season with a trophy, and Conte must be well prepared to deliver. With an on-fire Eden Hazard, Conte and Chelsea have a chance at ending the season on a high note.
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