Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has this evening defended his controversial tactics from the Blues’ 1-0 loss at the hands of Manchester City.
The two sides went head to head at the Etihad, with City having come into proceedings hoping to extend their already massive lead atop the Premier League table.
The Sky Blues sat 15 points clear of nearest challengers Liverpool in the English top-flight table before today, and no doubt headed into this evening’s clash brimming with confidence, having put Arsenal to the sword by 3 goals to nil in consecutive fixtures over the last week.
Chelsea, meanwhile, saw their positive recent streak of results come to an end at the hands of Manchester United last time out, with goals from Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard ensuring that Jose Mourinho got one over on his former employers.
The opening 45 minutes this evening saw hosts City unsurprisingly control the majority of possession, with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan and Leroy Sane particularly influential.
However, chances were few and far between, with Cesar Azpilicueta’s clearance off the line from Leroy Sane’s driven effort the closest that either side came to a goal.
In fact, so little did visitors Chelsea create over the course of the first-half, that the Blues actually managed to equal an unwanted 14-year-old club record, as showcased below:
Chelsea failed to register a single shot on or off target in the first-half of their clash with Man City, the first time the Blues have done so since 2003-04 pic.twitter.com/VIqQkJK0Pa
— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) March 4, 2018
The second-half saw little change, with City in complete control and Chelsea struggling to establish any kind of stranglehold on proceedings.
And the utter dominance of the hosts finally paid dividends shortly after the restart, as Bernardo Silva beat Marcos Alonso to David Silva’s squared delivery to the back post to slot past Thibaut Courtois.
Despite the absolute gulf between the sides throughout proceedings, the solitary goal was all that separated the giants of English football at full-time, as City moved one step closer to an inevitable Premier League crown.
‘A crime against football’
While Chelsea were hugely disappointing as a whole this evening, one man who was singled out for particularly heavy criticism in the aftermath of the clash was Blues’ manager Antonio Conte.
The Italian tactician was criticised for his decision to once again leave Eden Hazard in an isolated no. 9 position, as well as the seeming complete lack of initiative on the part of his side to actually get on the scoresheet.
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp even went as far as to claim that ‘what Chelsea did was a crime against football today.’
‘Use their heads’
Conte himself, though, has since defended his choice of tactics, pointing to City’s opening half-hour demolition of Arsenal at the Emirates on Thursday night as justification for the defensive setup of his side:
‘I’m not so stupid to play open against City and lose 3-0 or 4-0. If I remember, Arsenal played vs them like that and you criticised them a lot because they conceded 3 goals in 30 mins. The pundits must use their heads when you speak about tactics.’