Antonio Conte is rewriting the script, though. When Chelsea lost to Burnley on the opening day of the Premier League season, we all thought: ‘Here we go again’.
our months later, Conte – thanks to this routine win over Qarabag – has guided his team to the last 16 of the Champions League.
Nine points behind domestic leaders Manchester City is a far from ideal position to be in going into December. But Chelsea’s title defence has been far from a disaster.
Questions continue to linger over Conte’s job security and his relationship – or lack of – with the real decision makers at Stamford Bridge. But maybe, just maybe, Conte can become the Chelsea manager that sticks.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
Qarabag (4-2-3-1): Sehic 5; Medvedev 5, Sadygov 5, Rzezniczak 5, Agolli 5; Almeida 6, Garayev 6; Guerrier 5 (Yunuszada 82), Michel 6.5, Madatov 5 (Diniyev 46, 5); Ndlovu 5 (Quintana 85)
Subs not used: Kanibolotskiy, Amirguliyev, Ismayilov, Sheydaev
Booked: Rzezniczak, Medvedev
Sent off: Sadygov
Chelsea (3-4-3): Courtois 5; Azpilicueta 6.5, Luiz 6.5, Rudiger 7; Zappacosta 6.5, Fabregas 7, Kante 7 (Drinkwater 75, 6), Alonso 6.5 (Cahill 58, 6); Pedro 6.5, Hazard 8 (Morata 65, 6.5), Willian 8.5
Subs not used: Caballero, Bakayoko, Christensen, Sterling
Goals: Hazard 21 (pen), Willian 36, 85, Fabregas 73 (pen)
Referee: Manuel De Sousa 3.
Conte is delivering. Those above him in the Chelsea food chain will do well to remember that.