Chelsea secured their passage to the latter stages of the Champions League with a resounding 4-0 win in Azerbaijan. With Atletico Madrid beating Roma in the Group C’s other fixture, the Blues cashed in and can secure top spot in the group with a win over Atletico at Stamford Bridge on match day six.
European football is back on the agenda for Antonio Conte’s Chelsea, who make their longest-ever Champions League away trip as they head to Azerbaijan to face FK Qarabag. The home side have adapted to life in Europe’s premier club competition well after a difficult start. The Blues sit second in Group C, one point behind group leaders Roma and can secure their qualification for the knockout stages if with a win – provided other results go their way.
Despite Chelsea’s slow start to the campaign, they had plenty first-team players on international duty as two more Blues confirmed their places at next year’s World Cup in Russia this week.
With the Premier League back on the agenda following the international break, Antonio Conte will be hoping Chelsea’s hard-fought win over Manchester United last time out, can be the catalyst to his charges’ pursuit of Manchester City. The Blues sit nine points behind Pep Guardiola’s high flyers and need to close the gap as quickly as possible.
Chelsea returned to the top four in the Premier League with a hard-fought victory over former manager Jose Mourinho’s side. The pressure was very much on the Blues following a poor result in the Champions League but Antonio Conte’s men delivered when it mattered.
Antonio Conte will be desperate to see his side get back to winning ways against a Watford side that sit two points above Chelsea in the Premier League table.
Chelsea travel across London later looking to inflict yet more misery on lowly Crystal Palace and get their season back on track. The Blues struggled to cope with Manchester City’s all-action approach last time out, and with injuries to N’Golo Kante and Alvaro Morata, Antonio Conte will have to introduce some of his squad players against Roy Hodgson’s men.
Fresh from his maiden Ballon d’Or nomination, N’Golo Kante has suffered a hamstring injury on international duty with France, leaving Antonio Conte desperately searching for positives.
At first glance, the international break couldn’t have come at a better time for Chelsea, with the Blues still reeling from being completely outplayed in the 1-0 defeat to Manchester City. Record signing Alvaro Morata limped off in the first half of the loss with what has been confirmed as a month-long hamstring injury, with Kante’s issue heightening the ill-feeling around the Bridge even further this week.
Early season beset with injuries
For much of last season, Chelsea were blessed by a lack of injuries within the squad, a situation that allowed Conte to retain a familiar side on a weekly basis in the Premier League. This term, however, has posed different problems, with Eden Hazard missing the first month of the new campaign through an ankle injury and new signing Danny Drinkwater yet to be fit enough to feature for his new employers.
The squad’s relatively clean bill of health was cited by most observers as a major factor in the Blues winning the title last term, along with the absence of any European football. Indeed, having a larger fixture list already looks to be taking its toll on the squad this term.
Kante didn’t feature in the 5-1 demolition of Nottingham Forest but has still played 12 games in 56 days – a greatly increased workload on last season – and his all-action approach looks to have got the better of him momentarily. Morata’s injury is similar in nature and the Blues medical staff will be sincerely hoping that the increased amount of injuries is nothing to do with the training methods used by the staff at Cobham.
Morata and Kante have been the two star performers for Chelsea already this season and replacing both of them would be a huge challenge for Conte. Injuries are inevitable and squads are built to fight on four fronts – which is something Chelsea are looking to do this campaign.
During his time in the Premier League, Antonio Conte has shown himself to be an innovative coach that can deal with the ever-changing environment of English football. Whilst he and the Chelsea faithful will be praying Kante and Morata’s injuries are not as serious as they first appear, finding a tactical answer to the problem could be the Italian’s biggest test to date at Stamford Bridge.
As Chelsea cantered to the Premier League title last season, one man grabbed all the headlines for his incredible performances: N’Golo Kante. The Frenchman won the PFA Players Player of the Year, the Football Writers’ Player of the Season and picked up his second Premier League medal in as many seasons, after winning the title with Leicester City in 2015-16.
The 2016-17 Premier League season heralded one of the most successful seasons in Chelsea Football Club’s history.
N’Golo Kante returned to the King Power to inflict a third Premier League defeat of the season on Craig Shakespeare’s Leicester City as Chelsea picked up their second successive 2-1 away victory.