Talking Points

The Premier League season came to a close on Sunday with Chelsea finishing outside of the Champions League places.

Chelsea supporters will be used to their side defending the title in a mediocre manner, with a good chunk of the current players finishing in tenth place following their title win under Jose Mourinho before Antonio Conte’s arrival.

The Blues still have an FA Cup final to play for next Saturday, but the club’s failure to finish in the top-four will hurt those associated with the London outfit.

Here are five games that cost Chelsea a top-four finish this season:

#1 Chelsea 2-3 Burnley (Opening day)

From the very get-go, the mood was set by Chelsea when they suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of Sean Dyche’s Burnley. The body language of the players, including the manager on the touchline, did not speak that of a team that was ready to defend their Premier League title. This game, which saw Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas sent off, set the precedent for the rest of the campaign.

#2 Crystal Palace 2-1 Chelsea (14/10/17)

Prior to this game at Selhurst Park, Chelsea had suffered a home defeat at the hands of the eventual champions Manchester City. Their response to that game was to gift Crystal Palace their first three points of the season. At this stage, the Blues were beginning to show consistent signs that they were not at the races and ready to produce yet another woeful title defence.

#3 Chelsea 0-3 Bournemouth (31/1/18)

Chelsea were still sitting in the Champions League places when Bournemouth visited the Bridge at the end of January. Conte was already in a foul mood with the Chelsea board seemingly not buying the players he wanted during the January transfer window. That mood transferred onto the pitch and to the players as Eddie Howe’s side outclassed them in every department on the night. The Cherries produced a brilliant counter-attacking and vibrant display to claim a well-deserved three points.

#4 Watford 4-1 Chelsea (4/2/18)

Things went from bad to worse when Chelsea visited Vicarage Road at the start of February. It was arguably the team’s worst performance of the season, with Tiemoue Bakayoko being the villain of the show. The Frenchman constantly lost the ball during this game and he was eventually put out of his misery when he was sent off after 30 minutes. Following this defeat, many expected Conte to either walk away from the job or to be sacked instantly. Instead, the Italian stayed on as his side then went onto crash out of the Champions League at the hands of Barcelona.

#5 Chelsea 1-3 Tottenham (1/4/18)

Despite a season of problems and chaos, Chelsea could have papered over those cracks by beating their London rivals on home soil. Going into the game, Chelsea were five points behind fourth-placed Tottenham and this was a great chance for the Blues to scare their top-four rivals going into the last seven games of the season. Instead, Spurs claimed their first league win at the Bridge since 1990 and all-but ended Chelsea’s top-four hopes.