Taxi for Mr Conte

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Olivier Giroud celebrates after scoring against Southampton. PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES


Tim Harrison

By Tim Harrison

The Blues have lost none of their ability to surprise.

The curtain-raiser for Wembley’s FA Cup semi against Southampton left even seasoned Chelsea watchers agog.

Having struggled to match the Saints for two-thirds of the game at St Mary’s, a Tannoy call went out to see if there were any Arsenal rejects in the stand.

A Mr Olivier Giroud made himself known to the nearest steward, put on boots he happened to have with him, and instigated an eight-minute comeback of such intensity that the psychological damage to Saints’ minds may be permanent.

It augers well for Sunday, when the teams meet under the big arch… although Chelsea’s journey to Lancashire on Thursday night means tired legs could also be a factor.

But where does last weekend’s startling reverse of fortunes leave the likes of Alvaro Morata, Davide Zappacosta and Tony Conte? Morata made way for Giroud, who in less time than it takes to boil my kettle had recorded a man-of-the-match performance.

At 25, Morata still has much to give… but not at Stamford Bridge, where his time is surely up.

Zappacosta, also 25, who made way for Pedro, was equally ineffective. Between them, Morata and Zappa represent £80million of wayward investment.

As for Conte, the absence of jack-in-the-box gymnastics on the touchline tells its own tale. He’ll agree terms, pack his bag and get in a cab on Sunday May 20.

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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