Wednesday 13 December 2017

'A great team on paper, not on the pitch' - Conte fuming at Chelsea flops

Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas and Gary Cahill react after Arsenal's Theo Walcott scored their second goal
Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas and Gary Cahill react after Arsenal's Theo Walcott scored their second goal

Tom Allnutt

Antonio Conte has told his Chelsea players to start living up to their reputations after the Blues endured a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Arsenal.

Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil put the Gunners out of sight before half-time at the Emirates Stadium as the hosts condemned Chelsea to their second consecutive Premier League defeat.

Conte's men were run ragged in the first 45 minutes and once again paid the penalty for a string of defensive errors.

Gary Cahill gifted possession to Sanchez for the first goal, Cesar Azpilicueta was caught out of position for Walcott's second and then Cahill and David Luiz together failed to defend a two-on-two as Ozil added a third.

The result leaves Chelsea eighth in the table after six games and already eight points behind league leaders Manchester City.

"If someone thinks this season is easy, we must work a lot to improve and change the situation because now we are a great a team on the paper, not on the pitch," Conte said.

"I prefer to be a great team, not on paper, but also on the pitch because the pitch speaks the truth, the pitch is the most important thing for us. Not the words, not the paper. We must change this.

"Last season was a bad season and last season we were a great team on the paper. This team we want to be a great team also on the pitch.

"There are many difficulties but if we understand this we are in a good position to recover and to change the situation."

No team in the top half of the Premier League has conceded more than Chelsea's nine goals so far and they have now let in nine in their last four in all competitions.

Conte switched from a back four to a back three in the second half in hope of an improvement but the damage was already done.

"I think I have to solve the situation," Conte said. "The situation is every game we have conceded two goals at a minimum. For this reason, two back, three back or four back, I don't care.

"It's important to solve the situation. This is the most important thing. I must find the solution and I work a lot to find the right solution."

Chelsea's defensive woes once again bring to the fore the absence of John Terry, who was not declared fit enough to feature as he completes his recovery from an ankle ligament injury.

"John is recovering from a bad injury but I don't like to talk about players that today didn't play," Conte said.

"I don't like this. I think this is a lack of respect for the players today who played bad or good."

Antonio Conte admitted his team failed to turn up at the Emirates but refused to criticise his players after suffering back-to-back defeats in the Premier League.

Conte told BT Sport: "I think from the first minute we didn't have the right attitude and I think we played the game against a tough team.

"After today we are thinking that we must work a lot because we are great team only on paper.

"I think there's always a team problem and not a player. I don't want to talk about the mistakes because it's not right for the player, we win as a team and we lose as a team and we know we must work a lot.

"We must work to improve, to come back as a great team - not only on paper but on the pitch and this is important."

The Italian also confirmed that in future he is planning to use the 3-5-2 formation he changed to during the second-half of the match.

Press Association

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