Dreary cup blues

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Willian of Chelsea evades a tackle from Christoph Zimmermann of Norwich City. PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES


Tim Harrison

By Tim Harrison

The reigning champions meet the title winners from the previous season this weekend, as Leicester visit Stamford Bridge... but if the third round of the FA Cup is any guide to form it could be a dreary spectacle.

Both the Blues and the Foxes played out lacklustre 0-0 draws away to lowlier opposition, forcing unwanted replays.

What possessed Tony Conte to load the bench with four U18s at Carrow Road is something only he knows, but it turned on its head the conventional wisdom of starting with second-string players while holding the cavalry in reserve.

“It’s a pity because we wanted to win the game; instead we have to play another game,” muttered Conte as the Norwich replay is shoehorned into an already cluttered fixture mix.

The word in the corridors at the Bridge is that the manager is crossing the days off his 2018 calendar until he disappears back to Serie A on the final day of May... irrespective of any cup achievements.

If it does prove to be the case, it will have been a brief but memorable couple of seasons at Chelsea.

Even the Blues’ bagging of bargain-basement Ross Barkley from the Toffees doesn’t seem to have enthused Conte, although it looks like a good piece of transfer-window business as he was snapped up for half the £30million fee which was once on the table.

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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