Monday 19 March 2018

Antonio Conte set to axe three senior defenders after Arsenal capitulation

Antonio Conte has urged his Chelsea players to live up to their reputations
Antonio Conte has urged his Chelsea players to live up to their reputations

Jack Austin

Antonio Conte is planning a ruthless defensive reshuffle after Chelsea’s disastrous 3-0 defeat to Arsenal at the weekend, with no one’s place in the squad safe.

Gary Cahill had another game to forget after being caught in possession by Alexis Sanchez for Arsenal’s second goal, while Branislav Ivanovic’s position is also vulnerable.

It is the second time Cahill’s dithering has cost Chelsea, with something similar happening against Swansea, albeit many thought it was a foul on the England international.

The pair are expected to be phased out by Conte as John Terry and Kurt Zouma return from their respective injuries in the coming weeks.

Conte is also working hard on bringing in more defensive reinforcements in January, with the Italian wanting to bring in a new full-back and two new centre-halves.

That casts doubt on David Luiz’s Chelsea career as a first-choice centre-back already after he re-joined the club on transfer deadline day, along with left-back Marcos Alonso, with a move into midfield a possibility for the Brazilian.

Juventus’ Leonardo Bonucci is thought to be top of Conte’s list after managing him both in Turin and for the Italian national team, while he also chased Kalidou Koulibaly of Napoli.

The Blues are also keeping tabs on young English defensive talents such as Burnley’s Michael Keane and Middlesbrough’s Ben Gibson as they look to increase the number of homegrown players in their squad.

The duo have been scouted extensively as Chelsea prepare for 35-year-old Terry’s retirement, whenever he may decide to hang up his boots.

(© Independent News Service)

Independent News Service

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