As Arsenal waited to assemble the group defend at Wembley, Antonio Conte wandered about, arms folded and head down, with the seem to be of an extraordinarily bemused man.
How did his team lose his sport? Why did his goalkeeper take his staff’s 2d penalty in the shoot-out? How did his pricey and glossy new striker leave out the target utterly from 12 yards? And just what’s an ABBA shoot-out anyway?
As Conte pondered all this and no doubt rather more, Arsenal amassed the season’s first piece of silverware. Arsene Wenger’s crew got here from at the back of to draw after which won the abnormal penalty competitors that followed through four targets to 1. It wasn’t the fact that Chelsea lost the shoot-out that truly mattered, it was once the way wherein they lost it.
The ABBA machine is new and can take some getting used to. the best way to give an explanation for it is that it really works like a tennis tie-smash. One shot to group A, followed by means of two for workforce B, two for A and so on. the theory is to forestall the group going 2d having to take care of the drive of at all times trailing.
from time to time right here the gamers didn’t seem totally certain about who’s turn it was, gamers on occasion being tentatively shoved forwards like apprehensive teenagers inching towards a early life club dance ground, but that also didn’t excuse the peculiar means that Conte and his gamers went about the industry of trying to win it.
It used to be strange sufficient to see a significant defender, Gary Cahill, go first. After he scored and two Arsenal players, Theo Walcott and Nacho Monreal, converted successive kicks, Chelsea self-sacrificed in brilliant style.
Bizarrely, Thibaut Courtois took Chelsea’s second kick and ballooned it over the bar. On the touchline, Conte closed his eyes. When he opened them once more, he noticed centre ahead Alvaro Morata drag the primary significant intention attempt of his Chelsea profession miserably wide with his right foot.
So when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Olivier Giroud stepped up to ranking for Arsenal, the whole thing used to be over and Conte was left with questions to reply to.
Having spent much of the summer time with doubts swirling over his long-term future with the preferable League champions, none of what happened at Wembley the day before today will have helped.
His crew contained now not a single new signing – Morata started out on the bench – and perhaps that used to be deliberate. through fielding an eleven almost similar to the one who completed remaining may’s FA Cup ultimate defeat to Arsenal on the same stadium, possibly this was once Conte’s way of underlining his contemporary statement that his squad lacks depth.
whatever the case, the shoot-out just seemed chaotic. As Courtois hurried to take his kick, it nearly regarded as if Chelsea didn’t truly care. That impression most effective deepened when the Belgian all however lashed the ball out of the stadium.
Conte and his crew did care, after all, and also you handiest had to look at Morata afterwards – standing disconsolately together with his water bottle – to understand that, however Conte’s Chelsea has now not always appeared a very settled place all the way through the weeks of summer time and nothing that happened the day prior to this modified that.
For a while all through the real recreation, Chelsea had exerted a semblance of control. indeed, had the Spaniard Pedro now not been sent off with eight minutes to head they almost certainly would have held on to their lead to win. When issues aren’t rather proper at a football club, bizarre issues to occur on the sector and that was once the case right here.
Arsenal were the simpler side early on and looked dangerous. their very own giant summer signing, Alexandre Lacazette, was once within the team and he almost scored in the 22nd minute, curling a measured right foot shot towards the post from 13 yards. some other forward, younger Alex Iwobi, was once vigorous, too, and for 25 minutes it was once an uncomfortable afternoon for the English champions.