He came without ribbons. He came without tags. He came without packages, boxes, or bags.
Apologies are in order for this shameful attempt at humor. But bear with me for a moment while I try to convince you how this quote from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” seems weirdly apt to describe what Antonio Conte has done in England.
Didn’t he too come without a wisp of hoolaboola at Chelsea? While in one side of Manchester, the press was drooling over the arrival of Pep Guardiola, on the other side Jose Mourinho had taken reign at United. In the Merseyside, Klopp’s revolution was gathering pace. And finally in London, Pochettino’s young Spurs had their best season in a long time.
And hasn’t he now has ruined (if not stolen) the Christmas of his peers?
Don’t believe me.. Hear it from them!
Jose Mourinho got riled when Conte urged the crowd to appreciate his players towards the end of 4-0 drubbing of United. He whispered in Conte’s ears,
It’s just my opinion, but don’t do that at 4-0. You can at 1-0, but at 4-0 it’s humiliation.
Guardiola slipped this in between his “Congratulation Chelsea”,
You can’t expect to create.. when Chelsea have 9 players in the box.
And then Mourinho recently chimed in with another thinly veiled criticism,
“It will be hard to stop Chelsea. They score one goal and then defend a lot.” Yeah Jose, we scored four against you.
Something must be going right at the West London club. Here are the statistics behind the incredible run:
Most dribbles in Europe
Antonio Conte is known for his focus on fitness of his squad. It is indeed showing with Chelsea making a Europe best 14.6 dribbles per game. Barcelona come second with 14.3 dribbles per game. Lion’s share of the dribbles goes to Eden Hazard who makes 4.9 dribbles per game. He is only behind Adama Traore (in whole Europe) by a whisker who makes 5 dribbles per game.
12 wins in a row : a new club record
As soon as Conte switched to 3-4-3, his side have been on a different level. They are now chasing the Arsenal’s Premier League record of 14 wins in a row.
The record is held by Arsenal who won 13 consecutive league fixtures stretching from 10 February until the end of the season. Their run ended in the second game of the next season when they drew 2-2 with West Ham.
The 14-game streak equalled the all-time league record jointly held by Manchester United (Second Division, 1904–05), Bristol City (Second Division, 1905–06) and Preston North End (Second Division, 1950–51).
So Chelsea are only one win off of equaling the most consecutive wins in a single season.
2 goals conceded in 12 matches (one was an own goal)
It has only happened for the first time in 128 years of English top flight history that a team has won 12 straight games conceding only 2 goals. Thibaut Courtois has kept 10 clean sheets in 12 matches. He has also pulled some incredible saves at important points.
11 clean sheets in 18 matches
Chelsea have kept an astonishing 11 clean sheets in just 18 matches and an astonishing 10 in last 12 matches. They will break the record of most clean sheets kept in a season which is also held by Chelsea at the moment (21 in 2004-05).
Fewest fouls in Premier League
Conte’s Chelsea have also made just 169 fouls after 17 matches, fewest in the Premier League.
Clean sweep of monthly awards : first time in history of Premier League
A record that doesn’t and shouldn’t matter much, but bears repeating for the sake of completion. Conte was named Manager of the month for November. Diego Costa claimed player of the month and Pedro grabbed the goal of the month for his delightful strike against Tottenham.