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Conte admits red cards could prompt Chelsea re-think
After being reduced to 10 men in both the FA Cup final and the Community Shield, Conte’s men finished the opening game of their Premier League title defence with just nine players after Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas were both dismissed in a pulsating 3-2 defeat by Burnley at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has accepted he may have to embed a new formation in his team if they continue to have players sent off.
It left the Italian manager concerned by the inability of his players to control their emotions when a team-mate was dismissed.
“I saw two faces of my team today,” Conte said after a match where Chelsea were 3-0 down before half-time.
“One positive in the second-half, one negative in the first-half. We lost our composure after the first red card and we conceded the three goals.
“We have to improve a lot on this aspect because this type of situation can happen.”
He added: “We have to think that there is the rest of the game to play and do our best. We must also have the right experience to face this type of situation. I have to start to study a new formation with 10 players because this irregularity is worrying.”
Conte’s sanguine post-match analysis was no doubt inspired by the ferocity of Chelsea’s second-half comeback, first with 10 men after Cahill’s 14th-minute dismissal for a lunge on Steven Defour and then nine after Fabregas collected a second yellow card.
The Chelsea boss was also without the injured trio of Pedro, Eden Hazard and recent arrival Tiemoue Bakayoko, although new striker Alvaro Morata impressed as a second-half substitute, scoring one goal and setting up another for David Luiz.
“We tried to attack in the right way in the second half,” Conte explained. “We didn’t lose our balance and I have to be proud about the great commitment, the great desire, the great will of my players even though it was very difficult to change the result in the second half.
“I am not worried because we have to trust in our work. Today we had three injured players missing and one missing for a ban.
“For sure we’ll have two players out – Cahill and Fabregas – from a ban in the next game but we’ll find the right solution.
“Alvaro is working very hard to find his good fitness as soon as possible and to adapt very quickly to our style of football. But for sure he played very well in the last 30 minutes, which is good news for us.”
Meanwhile Burnley manager Sean Dyche knows that winning away to the champions on the opening day is only a small step in the northwest side’s bid to yet again retain their Premier League status.
Dyche saw Sam Vokes score twice and left-back Stephen Ward connect with a stunning volley as his side won away in the top flight at the first time of asking — last season their only away league win came at Crystal Palace in April.
“This result kills off the away win story for this season but we’re not getting carried away,” said Dyche.
“It’s a great win for us, brilliant for our players, brilliant for our supporters but we know there’s a big season right in front of us, the ‘second season’ that everyone’s telling us about.
“It’s very difficult at this club to make massive strides,” the Englishman added. “This win won’t do us any harm at all but it won’t make our season.
“There are a lot of big games coming so it’s important that we remind ourselves of that.
“We still gave away possession too easily in the second half. Chelsea are a top-class side and it is tough to come here and dominant possession, even when they have 10 men, but we were too flippant with the ball and we gave it away too cheaply. That is something that we’ve got to continue to work on.”
Ezekiel Azure Zion is a sports writer and a blogger who loves what he does.