No goals & no variety: Chelsea's bore draw with Arsenal proves Conte needs a Plan B

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The Blues failed to make their dominance pay once again in a 0-0 draw with a weakened Arsenal side, casting serious doubt on hopes of silverware

Chelsea are now undefeated in nine matches but Wednesday night's League Cup semi-final stalemate at home to Arsenal makes it three draws in a row for a side that is sorely lacking the tactical variation required to break down stubborn opponents. 

At present, Manchester City's Plan A, B and C are all far more effective than the Blues' one-dimensional approach, which is why the Londoners currently trail Pep Guardiola's champions-elect by 16 points in the Premier League standings, but even Jose Mourinho at Manchester United has more attacking options available to him right now than Antonio Conte does at Stamford Bridge. 

An understrength Arsenal side were second best for the duration of their first-leg clash with Chelsea but that was hardly surprising, given they had six players out injured and the seemingly City-bound Alexis Sanchez sitting on the bench.

The Gunners, however, did an excellent job nullifying their hosts. Indeed, while Chelsea threatened at set-pieces throughout, they only looked like scoring in open play whenever Victor Moses had the chance to attack the inexperienced Ainsley Maitland-Niles at full-back.

Eden Hazard Chelsea Arsenal

Chelsea, essentially, have two main formations and went for their slightly more cautious 3-5-2 on Wednesday. That system had served Conte well after Chelsea's struggles in October, when they were all over the place defensively, but it is only effective from an attacking perspective when Alvaro Morata is firing on all cylinders. 

The Spain international, though, is in a dire run of form. True, he was out injured for a while but the fact that he has only scored three goals in all competitions since November 22 says it all.

Eden Hazard, meanwhile, continues to play with greater menace, and create more chances, but the Belgian is also in a dry spell, having netted just once since December 5 – and even that solitary strike was from the penalty spot. 

Michy Batshuayi came off the bench to replace Morata in the 86th minute but struggled to influence the game, which is hardly surprising. He has seen so little game time of late that his confidence is shot from months and months of playing second fiddle, first to Diego Costa and now Morata. 

The Belgian attacker's three league starts show that he's not trusted by Conte and it now seems inevitable that he will be loaned out in January, or perhaps even sold, in order to make room for the kind of attacker that will add a badly needed extra dimension to Chelsea's forward line.

Of course, the answer could lie within. Pedro chipped in with big goals last season during Chelsea's title win but then, the Spaniard has not reached anything like the same level of consistency this term.

Eden Hazard Chelsea Arsenal

Chelsea wanted Fernando Llorente as a back-up striker before the start of the current campaign but they ultimately lost out to Tottenham, so the search goes on.

Juventus wing-back Alex Sandro remains Chelsea's main transfer target but what the Blues need right now more than anything is an added creative spark up front. 

Certainly, Ross Barkley has the attacking ability to have a positive impact at Chelsea but he's never been prolific, or consistent, so it would be asking a lot for the recent arrival from Everton to come in and immediately lift Conte's struggling side.

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Indeed, Chelsea's lack of goals and firepower is becoming a worry and it is something that will need to be addressed if the club is to win anything this season, with the Premier League title destined to go to Manchester City. 

When Conte let loose at the referee in the final stages at Stamford Bridge, it was hard not to feel that the Italian's frustration was not borne of the referee's refusal to award a penalty for a perceived foul on Cesc Fabregas, but rather his own team's failure to break down a determined defence.

It is in danger of becoming the abiding image of Chelsea's season.

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