In the beginning, there was no information about Chelsea’s team for the Champions League match tonight, in case anything untoward happened. Then the match took place. But there were messages: The Blues, showing a no-win approach, dished out a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Borussia Dortmund, leaving them clinging to Premier League fourth place. “Nobody likes to lose,” said manager Antonio Conte. Not that he’s familiar with doing it, of course.
The other teams in Group C had already played earlier: in the Scudetto between Manchester City and Basel, City prevailed 3-1. Meanwhile, Celta Vigo and Atletico Madrid met in Group D, Atletico won 1-0 with a goal from Fernando Torres.
If you take a few hours to read through all of the news on the 2018 FIFA World Cup schedules, you’ll find you can already see which team you want to pick: Russia.
Ivan Gazidis is finishing up his first official day as Arsenal’s chief executive. He’s probably only looking forward to the start of the season. But he will be grateful for having faced the chance to express his views on Arsene Wenger’s side: Gazidis said that his was not a club that was built on money. While there is a budget, a “relationship with the fans” was more important, he said.
Chelsea’s defence has been among the best in the league this season, only allowing six goals. But Antonio Rudiger has been ruled out tonight with an abdominal strain. He will be replaced by Kurt Zouma, who is still to come back from his cruciate ligament injury. John Terry, of course, is not here, having moved into the role of ambassador this summer. But there are other potential candidates for his replacement: Tiemoue Bakayoko is here, alongside Andreas Christensen and, if Thibaut Courtois is able to play, Ross Barkley.
Juventus’s three-pronged attack will be worth watching, all right. Coming into the game, Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain and Mario Mandzukic have a combined tally of 14 goals so far this season. Chelsea is not as bad defensively as their 4-0 score indicates. And apart from David Luiz, they have the kind of centre-backs who should be able to handle a good handful of Juventus attacks.
Antonio Conte knows he has a long way to go before he will be considered one of the best managers in Europe, yet he remains very much in contention. Over the past two years, he has guided Chelsea to the title in both of the two European competitions they have contested. He will not be distracted by the pressure of this task: Already three games into the Premier League season, it is Chelsea’s earliest exit from the title race since 2003.