Chelsea’s Champions League campaign could threaten to expose the Blues’ shallow pool of talent

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Chelsea have not yet managed to secure a win in the league the weekend after a midweek match in the Champions League – despite both ties coming at home.

It’s not exactly panic stations for the Blues, but it is starting to set a rather worrying precedent.

A lot of talk at the start of the season was asking whether Chelsea had done enough business in the transfer window especially with the added pressure of European competition firmly back on the club’s shoulders.

Not only that, but Antonio Conte couldn’t afford to suffer a Premier League title defence as faulty as the one Jose Mourinho oversaw in his last (half) season in charge of the club.

The Italian manager admitted he would be up against it without more support in the transfer market.

After watching his team run out of steam in the FA Cup final against Arsenal he said he needed both numbers and quality to push on from his title win.

What followed were deadline day swoops for Davide Zappacosta and Danny Drinkwater who, for different reasons admittedly, have only found themselves on the fringes so far this campaign.

Antonio Conte during the Manchester City defeat (Photo by Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images)

The belated departure of Diego Costa meant that striker Alvaro Morata became a replacement rather than an addition, and as he came off injured against Manchester City, it was Willian who was called from the bench rather than Michy Batshuayi.

What does that tell you about Conte’s confidence in his squad depth?

Despite bagging the last-minute winner in Madrid to secure a dramatic win over Atletico in midweek, Batshuayi wasn’t trusted to get another all-important goal for the Blues at home against a title rival.

That can surely only prove that the transfer window didn’t go as planned for the boss – who seemed at one point almost certain to be bringing in Fernando Llorente from Swansea City, a player that would have actually expanded his options rather than coming in for another player going out.

However, the Spaniard chose Spurs late in the day, and the Blues had no back-up plan.

Chelsea are not just short up front either. Earlier in the season it looked like the Blues could even be lacking numbers in defence.

Without David Luiz this campaign the Blues defence has undoubtedly looked more shaky, and since the defender’s sending off against Arsenal Antonio Conte’s side have only kept one clean sheet.

Cesc Fabregas looked shattered towards the end of the game (Photo by Ian Kington/AFP/Getty Images)

Midfield is another problem area. Cesc Fabregas, N’Golo Kante and Tiemoue Bakayoko offer a bit of everything when they are deployed as a three.

However, with Drinkwater injured, and Nathaniel Chalobah and Ruben Loftus-Cheek no longer available to Conte, there’s nothing left in reserve if the Italian does play his best midfield in mid-week.

Granted the games that have followed Chelsea’s European matches this season haven’t been the easiest fixtures – London derbies against Arsenal are always unpredictable to say the least and Manchester City are strong title contenders.

But, with the ambitions that the Blues and Conte have for this season, taking just one point from those two matches isn’t cutting it, especially given their record in the big games last season.

They certainly benefited from being able to focus on the Premier League without European distractions on their way to winning the title, but Conte knew this. It’s why he wanted to add bodies as well as quality.

So far the early precedent is showing that the transfer window may well come back to haunt Chelsea somewhat in the league – but the manager needs to start trusting his squad to turn it around.



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