Chelsea’s dire performance in their defeat to Manchester United on Sunday has been put down to an unknown illness that is said to have affected a majority of the first team squad.
According to The Sun, the mysterious illness spread throughout the Blues’ squad in the week building up to the blockbuster clash against their rivals, and is understood to have affected several key players.
One such player was left wing-back Marcos Alonso, who was due to start at Old Trafford, but was pulled out of the line-up during the warm-up, due to the fact that he was too sick to take part in the encounter.
Alonso’s absence proved to be a big miss, with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois also missing the clash after reportedly injuring his ankle during a basketball promotional shoot for the club.
With the Spanish defender out of the side, Antonio Conte was forced to move Cesar Azpilicueta to the left hand side of a three-man defense, while Kurt Zouma was recalled to the starting line-up.
Other players who are said to have been affected by the ailment include Spanish striker Diego Costa and Victor Moses, who both started the game against United.
Costa managed to stay on the pitch for the entire 90 minutes, but was ineffective and cut a frustrated figure the entire afternoon, constantly getting into meaningless arguments with the referee, and United defenders Marcos Rojo and Eric Bailly.
Unlike Costa, Moses, who also had a quiet afternoon, could not continue for long, and was replaced just nine minutes into the second half.
It was evident that something was wrong with the league leaders as they put in an uncharacteristic display, and eventually succumbed to a 2-0 defeat at the Theatre of Dreams. The Red Devils dominated the game, with Marcus Rashford scoring the first and Ander Herrera grabbing the assist as well as scoring the second.
The result blew the title race wide open again, as Tottenham Hotspur beat Bournemouth 4-0 at White Hart Lane on Saturday. Just four points separate the two London rivals now, with only six games left to play.