Put Stamford in goal

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Diego Costa gets primal in Chelsea’s 3-0 loss to Arsenal. Picture: Action Images


Tim Harrison

By Tim Harrison

There are many painful things in life. Divorce, amputation, the death of a pet. But nothing quite beats losing 3-0 to Arsenal.

Chelsea’s lacklustre performance at the Emirates suggests that the Blues need to seriously rethink strategies, especially in defence, if they are not going to end up playing second fiddle to all the major title contenders.

As things stand, a slow graceful descent of the Premier League table seems likely unless Tony Conte can turn things around.

John Terry’s ankle injury and the team’s poor performance are no coincidence, but JT is not the long-term solution.

The way things are going, Chelsea could hardly do worse if they stuck Stamford the Lion in goal, and created a new back four from potted plants.

Nine goals have been conceded in four games. It’s almost as bad as West Ham.

And that’s after Chelsea’s relatively soft start to the season in terms of fixtures, and with no added European commitments to blame.

This should be the perfect season to rebuild, reorganise and rejuvenate, but Conte has to act swiftly and decisively.

Next up are Hull away, Leicester and Manure at home, and the Irons away in the league cup.

Conte’s experiment with three central defenders in the second half against Arsenal at least stopped the Gunners adding to their three first-half goal tally, but is it the answer to Chelsea’s evident woes?

The new manager described the Blues this week as “a great team on paper, not on the pitch”, and said he had had sleepless nights since Saturday’s defeat. Yet you sense that if the obvious goal-leaking problem is fixed, the rest will take care of itself.

Branislav Ivanovic, who captained Chelsea at Arsenal in JT’s absence, confirmed this week that the team had been experimenting with formations, and called on fans to keep faith.

Hull City beckons, with the Tigers unlikely to give Chelsea time, space, generosity or respect.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham.

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