Chelsea boss Antonio Conte will need to splash the cash if he has any hope of retaining the Premier League title. At least that’s what some are saying after the Blues conceded to rivals Arsenal following a penalty shootout in the Community Shield last weekend.
Usually little more than a pre-season friendly with something shiny to wave around for the victor, the Community Shield was refreshingly feisty this year, which perhaps shouldn’t have been a surprise considering the rivalry between the two London clubs.
Chelsea led early in the second half when Victor Moses struck at close range after a scrappy Arsenal failed to clear a corner. Conte’s men only had to hang on to their lead for another ten minutes of regular time when Pedro was sent off for a rash and graceless lunge on Mohamed Elneny.
Just 82 seconds later, the Gunners levelled as debutant Sead Kolasinac headed home the resulting free-kick.
The shootout that followed was the first in English football to follow the new ABBA format and it was Arsenal celebrating after Chelsea missed back-to-back penalties.
Some have pinned the loss on a lack of depth within the Chelsea squad after Antonio Conte named just 24 players, compared to Arsenal’s 41. Additionally, four of Chelsea’s seven substitutes were academy players.
Four new names have joined the Chelsea ranks since they lifted the Premier League trophy in May, but the Chelsea boss has confessed he would like to strengthen his squad further before the transfer window closes at the end of August.
While Alvaro Morata, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Willy Caballero and Antonio Rudiger have joined the club for a combined £129 million, their arrival has been counterbalanced by the departure of Nemanja Matic, Nathan Ake, Asmir Begovic, Bertrand Traore and Christian Atsu. Tammy Abraham, Nathaniel Chalobah and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have also been loaned out.
Chelsea will begin their title defence on Saturday August 12th when they host Burnley and fans keen to witness the encounter can still take advantage of hospitality packages.
Club captain Gary Cahill is clearly concerned at the scant squad, telling the BBC: "In terms of quality, we've certainly got that and you just have to hope we don't have too many injuries.”
Former Chelsea striker Chris Sutton agrees, describing the squad as “bare” before adding: "They need more and I don't think Conte is happy."
In terms of targets, the Daily Mail reports that Conte is set to make a bid for Paris Saint-Germain right-back Serge Aurier, 24, and could poach 26-year old Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk after talks with Liverpool broke down.
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