Five things we learned from Antonio Conte’s first game as Chelsea managerPublished July 19, 2016
The Antonio Conte era at Chelsea began in disappointing fashion, as the Blues lost 2-0 to Austrian side Rapid Vienna on Saturday.
Whilst the Italian boss had a number of players missing due to international commitments, the likes of Nemanja Matic, John Terry, Diego Costa and Willian all featured in a strong looking Chelsea side.
But despite the Blues looking good on paper, there performance on the pitch left a lot to be desired, something which was a constant theme throughout the whole of last season.
The result and performance left Antonio Conte with plenty to ponder, and we at Free Bets, take a look at the five things we learned from the Italian’s first match in charge.
N’Golo Kante’s arrival will be crucial
The arrival of new summer signing N’Golo Kante may turn out to be the most important transfer Chelsea have made in years. The Frenchman will bring energy, and tenacity to the Blues in central-midfield, something they badly missed throughout last season.
Nemanja Matic started in Kante’s position on Saturday, but his performance did nothing to suggest he is ready to recapture his form from two years ago, and the Serb could be shown the exit door at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea must sign another centre-back
If Antonio Conte didn’t already know how fragile his defence is, then after Saturday, he might just be starting to find out.
The Blues lined up at the back with John Terry and Papy Djilobodji, with the Senegal international only making one appearance since completing a £2.7million transfer from Nantes last September.
Djilobodji looked completely off the pace, and whilst it is clear that the defender’s time at Stamford Bridge may be up, Conte might not be too excited by the defenders that remain at the club.
Despite publically backing captain John Terry, the 35-year-old looked a shadow of his former self last season, whilst Gary Cahill hardly looked up to scratch during the last campaign either.
Whilst Kurt Zouma certainly has the potential to be the real deal, the French starlet is still recovering from a serious injury and will not be expected to lead the Chelsea backline.
Antonio Conte’s emphasis on solidity at the back, will surely lead to a defensive shake-up this summer.
Diego Costa need support upfront
There were several instances over the course of the 90 minutes against Rapid Vienna where Costa cut a frustrated figure up front.
Although the Spaniard can expect more help, when the likes of Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas return to the side, Antonio Conte, may look to deploy two strikers in the Premier League next season.
The signing of Marseille forward Michy Batshuayi could be massive for both Chelsea and Costa this season.
Eden Hazard is still Chelsea’s main man
Despite having a torrid time during the 2015/16 season, Eden Hazard’s Euro 2016 showing, proved that when on form, he can be a major influence for any side.
The Belgian’s creativity and imagination was certainly missing on Saturday, as the West London side looked short of ideas when going forward.
If Antonio Conte can get the best out of Hazard, then there is no doubt that we will see a different Chelsea side next season.
Antonio Conte’s touchline dramatics will remain
Chelsea’s Italian boss earned many fans in France for his passion and commitment from the sidelines as Italy reached the quarter-finals at Euro 2016.
But, despite losing his suave Euro’s suit for Chelsea’s first pre-season clash against Rapid Vienna, the Italian hasn’t lost any of his touchline dramatics.
The former Juventus and Italy boss reproduced his emotional antics on Saturday, as he wore the Chelsea hooded jumper and jogging bottoms for the first time.
One thing is for certain this season, watching Antonio Conte will be anything but dull.