Chelsea reserve their worst display of the season for the final day

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Chelsea FC manager Antonio Conte must shoulder responsibility for letting the intensity level drop between winning the title and contesting the FA Cup.


Tim Harrison

By Tim Harrison

It couldn’t have been simpler. Arsenal were hungry, Chelsea lethargic, and the Gunners deserved the trophy.

Who was to blame? Tony Conte has to shoulder responsibility for letting the intensity level drop between winning the title and contesting the cup.

When 100% effort was required, Chelsea delivered 75.

To be out-thought and outmanoeuvred by Arsene Wenger is no disgrace, but the Blues’ spirited second-half comeback showed, frustratingly, what might have been.

Wembley belonged to the reds, and as Chelsea’s disconsolate fans shuffled back to the tube, a totter trying to flog armfuls of Chelsea Champions flags was asked: “Are you giving them away, mate?”

It wasn’t Victor Moses’ finest hour. His dive – born of desperation rather than malice – deserved a second yellow. Ref Anthony Taylor was correct.

Arguments about whether Arsenal’s opener was offside, or handball, are spent. The truth is that, collectively, Chelsea reserved their worst display of the season to the last day, while Arsenal – fired up, indignant, gritty – overperformed.

The leaden-footed Blues’ energy levels slumped between Stamford Bridge and Wembley, and that proved fatal.

Yet this has been a fulfilling season. In September, when defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal meant Chelsea were sixth title favourites, it looked bleak.

But Conte navigated a course back to the top, and the Premier League trophy will gleam bright, with the added allure of Champions League action to come.

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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