Chelsea play Roma in the Champions League on Wednesday night, seeking a third win from three Group C games.
Here, we look at the talking points from the clash at Stamford Bridge.
Response from Palace shock
Juggling European commitments with domestic ones is a new challenge for head coach Antonio Conte at Chelsea. And his side performed dreadfully in defeat to Premier League bottom club Crystal Palace last Saturday. Their domestic fixture list looks favourable, but Chelsea must perform and cope with their continental commitments. Chelsea impressed in winning at Atletico Madrid, but have lost successive games in the Premier League following the defeats to Manchester City and Palace.
Chelsea’s impressive win at Atletico last month may have come with the last kick of the game, but was deserved. Following the opening 6-0 win over Qarabag it gave the Blues two wins from two games. Beat Roma at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday and Chelsea could qualify for the knockout stages with matches to spare. The Blues have won their group on their last three appearances and 11 times overall, but in 2012-13 suffered the ignominy of becoming the first holders to exit at the group stage. They responded to win the Europa League.
The Italian connection
Conte’s third game in Europe as Chelsea boss pits him against his compatriots. It is Chelsea’s first meeting with Italian opponents since 2012-13, when Roberto di Matteo’s side drew at home with Juventus and lost in Turin. The sack followed on the way home for the Italian, whose side had come from behind to beat Napoli en route to winning the 2012 European Cup just six months previously. Chelsea have won five, drawn two and lost two of their home matches with Italian clubs.
Conte has continually insisted he is committed to Chelsea. He agreed a new contract after winning the Premier League in his first season, but not an extension, which means his deal still expires in June 2019. Last month he told Italian radio of his wish to return to Italy one day. Chelsea insist that does not mean Conte will be cutting short his stay, while he revealed his wife and daughter have joined him in London after staying in Italy last season. His commitment on the touchline cannot be questioned.
Eden Hazard was in scintillating form during the Atletico win and showed signs of a fine understanding with Alvaro Morata, the striker Conte hopes will be fit to face Roma following a hamstring problem. Belgium playmaker Hazard has been challenged to take his game to the next level this season in Europe’s elite club competition and must reach the same heights against Roma in London and the Eternal City this month as he did in the Spanish capital.
Source: By PA Sport Staff