Antonio Conte cautioned against dwelling on “stupid” points Chelsea have dropped throughout this season. After a draw to Huddersfield, it is hard not to think about where the Blues would have been without such stupid concessions.
Chelsea will always hold a special place in Huddersfield Town FC lore. The Terriers secured their place in the Premier League with a matchweek 37 draw with the defending champions, mere days after a draw against this season’s champions. For Huddersfield, the point at Stamford Bridge was part of a wonderful survival story. For the Blues, it is part of a dismal pattern this season.
With the draw against Huddersfield, Chelsea have now dropped eight points this season to teams in 15th place or below. In the first half of the season they lost to Crystal Palace (then 20th) and West Ham United (then 19th). If you’re keeping track at home, Chelsea are currently four points behind Tottenham and two points behind Liverpool. That is to say, if the Blues had won any two of these games, they would be in control of their Champions League fate for next season.
Chelsea conceded seven other slightly less “stupid” points in the second half of the season. They lost back-to-back against then-12th place Bournemouth and 11th place Watford in February, then drew to West Ham in 14th place in April. Another eight points dropped.
If the Blues had earned half the points they conceded to bottom-half teams, they would be vying with Manchester United for second place. It is not an act of Spursiness to say this would make a significant different on Chelsea’s season. By guaranteeing Champions League football next year, Antonio Conte’s job would be safer and the Blues would be in a stronger position entering the summer transfer market. They would also be a in better position to negotiate contracts with their existing players.
With the Premier League title out of reach, Antonio Conte could take a more relaxed approach towards rotation and experimentation. If the Blues were safely in second or third, he could play more youth players or try new formations without risking anything. If the Blues were assured the Champions League instead of fighting a desperate battle to qualify while not controlling their own destiny, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Dujon Sterling, Kyle Scott or Emerson Palmieri could all be enjoying Premier League minutes. Instead, Conte has to rely on his best XI as he treats each game in the run-in as a final.
NEXT: Four areas where Chelsea did not learn from Huddersfield’s draw vs. City
Antonio Conte said on Tuesday there was no time to regret dropping these stupid points. But soon enough the Blues will come face-to-face with the consequences of these losses. Championship seasons are built around winning the games you are supposed to win and minimizing the losses of a few others. Chelsea have been vulnerable to the entire table this season. Missing the Champions League is regrettable, but deserved.