It may only be one game into the season but there’s already talk of a crisis at Stamford Bridge.
Following last week’s embarrassing loss at home to last season’s worst travellers in the Premier League Burnley, Chelsea’s squad is looking increasingly threadbare ahead of the first big London derby of the season as the Blues travel to Wembley to face Spurs in their temporary home.
FOX Sports Asia takes a look at four talking points ahead of the first big game of the season.
The reaction of Conte midweek to the question about Diego Costa’s ‘criminal’ interview bore all the hallmarks of a man who suddenly doesn’t feel so secure in his position. A nervous Conte tried to laugh off suggestions that he had treated Costa badly but ended up looking the opposite of last season’s supremely confident, man in charge. Costa aside, there are rumblings that Conte has been in dispute with Stamford Bridge top brass about his reluctance to field Chelsea’s academy players in favour of expensive signings. Chelsea have a history of being ruthless, even with their most successful coaches of recent years, but surely it’s too early for Conte’s future to be in doubt?
Squad looking shaky?
It never rains, but it pours. The loss of captain Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas through suspension following red cards last week, plus the continued absence of Eden Hazard has left Chelsea looking weak. The decision to sell Nemanja Matic and Conte’s treatment of last season’s top scorer Diego Costa now look even more foolish.
New signing Antonio Rudiger struggled on his first appearance last week, so Conte may be forced to rely on youngster Andreas Christensen in defence. The trouble for Conte is that so far he and fellow young players Michy Batshuayi and Jeremie Boga haven’t really given any indication that they are quite yet good enough to fill the boots of their more-experienced teammates.
Spurs revenge mission
After finishing runners up to Chelsea last time out, Spurs will be eager to put one over their cross-city rivals and make an early statement that they are ready to go one step further this season. Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has none of the selection problems facing his Chelsea counterpart and can choose from a settled squad that are familiar with his game plan. The chance to beat Chelsea and add to their growing sense of crisis should be all the incentive the Spurs players need.
The Wembley factor
Tottenham’s problems playing at the national stadium are well documented, they have won just two of their last 10 games there. White Hart Lane’s atmosphere and closeness to the pitch will be replaced with Wembley’s open spaces, while the threat of crowd trouble means 20,000 seats will be empty on Sunday. Faced with no other option, Spurs will have to get over any apprehensions as they are stuck playing there for the whole of the season while the Lane is rebuilt.