Title heading out of Stamford Bridge

Chelsea’s title defense looks all but over following a defeat at West Ham.

With the Manchester derby the following day, all Chelsea had to do was pick up an easy win against a West Ham team that was in the bottom three. With Conte’s defending champions already 11 points off the top, a win was mandatory to keep up with the two Manchester clubs. But instead, through an Arnautovic goal, West Ham picked up a solid 1-nil victory which might now put Chelsea 14 points off the top and out of the title race.

Following a midweek draw at home against Atletico, Chelsea were prepared to continue their 7 game unbeaten run in which they accumulated a win against second placed United and a draw at Anfield.  Conte fielded a strong side favouring the new 3-5-2 formation. But from the beginning, Chelsea looked under pressure and on the 6th minute, new hammers signing Marko Arnautovic smartly finished following an exchange of passes with Manuel Lanzini. Chelsea turned up the pressure but only could create two clear-cut opportunities both squandered by Hazard and Morata.  Chelsea raked up 61% of the possession but only two shots were on target among 19. While West Ham had only triggered 5 shots with 2 on target.

The defeat comes as a devastating blow to the Champions. They ended second in their Champions League group and will face Barcelona, PSG or Besiktas in the round of sixteen having failed to win against Atletico Madrid in the final group stage game which would have secured top spot. And now with this defeat, and if Manchester City were to win the Manchester derby, Chelsea will be 14 points off the top.

The only thing that Conte’s men can do to revive their title defence is to pray for a miracle.

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