Chelsea are in horrid form. The last few games have piled on the pressure for manager Antonio Conte, who has been forced to deny this week that he is concerned about his job. In January, Chelsea crashed out in the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup to a troubled Arsenal side, whose fans were really suffering from Alexis Sanchez withdrawal symptoms before they relapsed with a hit of intravenous Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan sold to them by Arsene Wenger (a man seriously lacking in moral fibre) in an Edinburgh stairwell. It should placate them for a couple of weeks or so.
Anyway, but for a 3-0 victory at home to struggling Newcastle, the Blues subsequently got beat 3-0 at home to Bournemouth before bending over and taking a real drilling from high-flying bloody Watford, whose last Premier League victory had come on Boxing Day. Vicarage Road was lit up by former Everton loanee, Barcelona winger Gerard Deulofeu, who banged in the goal his performance deserved in the 88th minute before Roberto Pereyra made it four shortly after.
Troy Deeney had put the hornets ahead in the first half from the penalty spot, and he certainly made his feelings known during a celebration which the FA called “obscene” but which I call “hilarious”. A double middle finger is a refreshing change to the bog standard knee slide and one which I think more players should adopt.
Conte’s misery was also compounded by notorious referee Mike Dean, whose serial offending in the dodgy decision-making department regularly sees him in the headlines. He sent off Timoue Bakayoko with a second yellow card in the first half, meaning he has now given out more Premier League red cards than any single top flight club has ever received. That’s quite a feat.
Bakayoko has been identified by many as one of Conte’s flagship failures this season. He replaced promising youngster Ruben Loftus-Cheek in the Chelsea midfield, a player who has turned heads with his performances on loan at Crystal Palace. But £36 million Bakayoko, who was a rock for Monaco in their impressive season last year, has taken to Premier League football like a duck to a Chinese restaurant.
It has even been reported this week that Barca manager Luis Enrique is already preparing to replace Conte at Chelsea. In spite of everything, that’s rough, isn’t it? Imagine going about your daily work, I don’t know, at the tills in Tesco, having a bit of an off day, struggling to make vacuous small talk with the elderly customers, and some other bloke is there schmoozing them as they wander off with their bags for life.
But Conte doesn’t work on the tills at Tesco (unfortunately, because that would be hilarious). And if Premier League managerial history, especially under Chelsea’s trigger-happy owner, is anything to go by, then it’s only a matter of time before he’s given his marching orders by Abramovich – that is, if Mike Dean doesn’t get there first.
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