Antonio Conte refusing to panic despite Chelsea's woes in front of goal against Crystal Palace

Ed Malyon
The Independent
The Chelsea manager is not concerned by the number of goals his side are conceding: Getty
The Chelsea manager is not concerned by the number of goals his side are conceding: Getty

Antonio Conte turned to one of his coaches, Carlo Cudicini, and searched for the phrase in English.

“There are times when things go your way and times when they don’t,” offered the former Chelsea goalkeeper, puffing out his cheeks.

Few at Stamford Bridge on Saturday will argue with that.

Sam Allardyce himself, delighted as he was with Crystal Palace’s performance in coming from behind to topple the league leaders, confessed that Chelsea had had the chances to win Saturday’s game.

The Blues had 24 attempts on goal and many of them from close range. They encountered Wayne Hennessey in sublime form, somehow getting a limb or stray body part to everything, and a defence that refused to give up.

Some better finishing, most notably from the strangely off-colour Diego Costa, would have won the game for Chelsea. It is why Conte was probably right to say his side weren’t necessarily unlucky. Finishing isn’t luck, but the fact they made so many chances suggests this isn’t a broken team worth worrying about.

Costa was not at his best against Palace (Getty)
Costa was not at his best against Palace (Getty)

“I think this defeat is totally different,” Conte said.

“If you compare this defeat with the other defeats we are another team. I think we are a strong team.

“Today for sure it wasn't our day because we created a lot of chances to score a goal. We dominated the game. When you lose this type of game in your mind you try to apply a lot of questions. But its very difficult to find a reply to this result today.”

Conte is not reading too much into the defeat (Getty)
Conte is not reading too much into the defeat (Getty)

While they could have scored more goals, Crystal Palace themselves also spurned two glorious opportunities on top of the pair they scored. Chelsea’s defence, for so long impenetrable, has now not kept a clean sheet since January and there is an issue with this back three and coping against faster forwards who will stretch the channels.

Conte insisted he wasn’t concerned by the increasing amount of goals being conceded. Expected goals analytics suggest this was a game Chelsea should have won narrowly but the chances they allowed, and where they occurred, weren’t indicative of a defensive unit playing to its potential.

Or, conversely, they’ve simply stopped overperforming now some weaknesses have been identified in their system by opponents.

It won’t be enough to prevent Chelsea winning the league, but it’s something to take into the summer’s transfer market, when you can expect the Blues to improve their central defensive options.

Just don’t tell Antonio Conte that the title race is over.

“I think that this league was not finished before this game and its not finished now. There are nine games to play and we have to think step by step. I repeat, at the end, if we deserve to win the title we will be very happy. If someone else deserves to win the title it means that they have played better than us.”

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