By Tim Harrison
Well, now we’ll see what Tony Conte is really made of.
Next up are three tricky little trips – to the strange micro-climate of Bournemouth, to Old Trafford and to Wembley, to face the team that is starting to turn up the heat – Tottenham.
Even title pretenders are entitled to stumble along the path, but Chelsea have to focus and steer the ship back in the right direction.
The Blues’ squad is surprisingly limited. Because Conte has only used 13 players in his starting line-ups in the Premier League for six whole months, he has painted himself into a bit of a corner.
The upside is that the players have gelled into an impressive unit, where everyone knows what everyone else is doing, and which position they’re likely to be occupying at any given moment.
The flipside is that when any injury arrives – such as Victor Moses’s recent absence – the reshuffled formation hasn’t the same instinct or confidence.
Spurs, whose next games are home fixtures against Watford and Bournemouth, are on a roll, and will keep tightening the screw if they can.
But at the back of their minds is the knowledge that as they ran towards the final hurdles last season, they tripped up.
Provided Chelsea can keep creating chances, as they have been doing, the title is still within their grasp.
A watertight Blues defence is as critical as a free-scoring attack. Fasten your seat belts; this could be a rocky ride.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.
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