Why didn’t Antonio Conte play Olivier Giroud at the weekend?
The Italian opted for a strikerless formation with Eden Hazard up front, which never really looked like working.
Chelsea had no attacking outlet, and were left stranded deep in their own half for the majority of the game.
Leaving Alvaro Morata out was a more understandable call given the poor form he’s been in, but Giroud looked great in his two starts since signing.
His linkup with Hazard looked to have developed perfectly, and the two could have caused City some problems.
The two most likely explanations for the Frenchman’s absence against Pep Guardiola’s team are a) that Conte thought playing without a striker would make Chelsea more defensively stable, or b) Conte thought that playing a fast front three would allow his side to break up the pitch more effectively.
Both of those thought have sense to them, but by half time (or shortly after) it should have been clear that it was no longer time to rely on defensive stability, and that Chelsea were never going to get a chance on the break.
That was the moment to change things.