Chelsea’s inability to execute Antonio Conte’s game plan is what cost the Blues the game against Arsenal on Saturday, says Branislav Ivanovic.
The Serb was part of a lackluster Chelsea back four that allowed in two goals in 14 minutes and a third before half time as the Gunners overcame their rivals for the first time in over five years.
To lose a London derby in such fashion is a big disappointment for Chelsea, but of greater concern is the fact that they have not won their last three games in the league.
It is quite surprising that Conte, a mastermind at tactical defending, is unable to shore up the defence of a team that for a long time boasted the best defenders in the English top flight.
VIDEO: Conte’s Chelsea humiliated by Arsenal | EPL 25/09/16
According to Ivanovic, however, the fault lies not with Conte but with the players, who lacked the confidence to see out the instructions given to them by the Italian.
“We did not believe in what we were doing at the beginning and we were punished,” the Serbian told Chelsea’s official website.
“As a team we did not answer anything the manager asked of us. We have to be honest with ourselves and put more attention on the small details. We have to be more focused and concentrated on the game.
“I know it is very disappointing and it hurts all of us, but the opinion of everyone in the dressing room was in the same direction.
“We have to build on that, stay together, work hard, and believe in what we are doing. I am sure we can come out of it stronger. We have to stick together.
“Nothing in life or in football comes easy, you always go up and down, but we know when you are in a difficult position you have to work hard and prepare for the next game. I hope we are mentally ready for the challenge.”
Antonio Conte’s message after Chelsea’s shambolic performance was simple: improvement is a must or else the Blues are set for another mid-table finish.
“We must improve a lot of if we want to stay up [at the top] and not in the middle of the table,” said the Italian.
“But my message is not important. The most important message is the one that arrives on the pitch. We must all understand this message, and find very soon the right solution to improve.
“I don’t sleep [after a loss like against Arsenal], I don’t sleep for two nights. When I don’t sleep, I reflect. And it’s important to reflect.
“I got angry at half-time but I prefer to keep my words. There are rules in the dressing room. Sure I was angry but my players were also angry. We were not satisfied with our game, with our performance.
“I have to find the solution very, very soon because against Arsenal we played a very bad game.”