It’s not something that neither Chelsea or, in fact, their newly-installed manager, serial winner, Antonio Conte is used to. Liverpool, on Friday, surgically dismembered the London club’s best-laid plans to remain unbeaten this season, with a manner of tactical precision and efficacy that’d do even the best Italian managers proud. Unlike Jose Mourinho, however, Chelsea have at their helm a level-headed manager, who would duly acknowledge where he and his side were found wanting, and would be well aware of the fact that other teams may strive to pull off the template Liverpool employed, to confound Chelsea enough to escape from the Bridge with a point or three.
With that in mind, here are 3 points that Conte may consider when faced with such a predicament, as Friday, where his side was clearly outmanoeuvred, out-thought, and overrun.
#1 Pile On For The First Goal
In games such as Liverpool and the bigger clubs, they will encounter through the course of the season, Conte will be well advised to push his peddle down on the metal.The Italian was guilty of instructing his charges to stand off Liverpool in the first-half, and set up their low-block, and put bodies behind the ball. That tactic, while it has served him well in his stint as the Italian boss, is double-edged. The first goal sets the narrative of the game, and Chelsea were resigned to giving up their say in the game vs Liverpool, as to how the story unfolds, by taking such back-footed approach., which resulted in the Merseysiders taking the lead, and throwing the gauntlet down. They were chasing for the rest of the game.
#2 Cesc Fabregas Could Hold The Key
The moment the second goal went in, Juergen Klopp administered the oldest Italian footballing trick in the book – their very own version of the low block. Leaving Chelsea with all to do, the German’s hounds from hell, hunted in packs, harried and pressed, stifling any chance for the side in blue to gain any foothold.
Introducing Cesc Fabregas off the bench titled the scales in favour of Chelsea, albeit, it was little too little, a little too late. No matter much of a luxury Cesc Fabregas is, when it comes to his liabilities in his defensive work, his vision carved out angles and avenues for the Blues to probe. While Liverpool were just too good on the day, when it came to smothering those angles; any other opposition, or any other day, who look to draw Conte’s team out, Fabregas could be the difference between a win or a draw.
#3 Kante Isn’t Makelele, Luiz Isn’t Ruud Gullit
Try as they did, the pair of N’Golo Kante and David Luiz, and they did try rather hard – they were each left wanting of suitable foil. Luiz making his second debut, threw himself about, chalking up a creditable number of interceptions, and blow on the nose for his troubles, he lacked the quiet composure of John Terry beside him. Highlighting the fact, that despite the presence of Gary Cahill, Kurt Zouma, Conte still needs a quality defender who could in time be an ideal transition player for ageing John Terry, and an ideal partner for the Brazilain.
As for Kante, he’d need a controller to be able to ply his trade in matches such as this, similar to how he operated with Danny Drinkwater, a player capable of dictating the tempo. Cesc, maybe, Tony?
Either way, Conte now knows, or should now know by now, that despite their apparent talents, neither Kante nor Luiz are players who can do it all on their own, like a couple of esteemed Chelsea old boys – not yet, anyway.