Antonio Conte has sparked some new lights at Chelsea. Whereas almost none of the managers under the Abramovich era have attempted to even somewhat establish a 3-man defence, Conte looks all set to conquer with it.
Most of the credit, however, has to go to the phenomenal directors and executives that Chelsea Football Club have. Assembling a defence as ill-balanced as the one at Chelsea, and just blindly ignoring Ivanovic and Cahill’s rise to martyrdom last season is a once-in-a-lifetime achievement. The same sort that you probably get fired over, but, nonetheless, an accomplishment of some feat.
All of the clever algebra has now left Conte with the penultimate ace. Victor Moses excelled in his first showing at right wing-back, Azpilicueta was always more defensive minded anyway so the shift to right centre-back wasn’t too distasteful, and Marcos Alonso gets a chance to show his crossing ability without being heavily depended on for his defensive attributes.
In addition, Hazard does not have as much defensive responsibilities. Bravo!
What’s more, now that this tactical switch has been made, Chelsea actually don’t look as short of cover as they did at the very beginning of the season, when the central midfield and full-back positions desperately needed some attending to.
Rotations are also easier, with Oscar and Fabregas competing for, really, one central midfield spot—that of Nemanja Matic. Pedro can fill in either at left wing-back or right wing-back depending on the needs. Zouma’s soon due to play his first minutes since February, and John Terry is also back from his injury that he suffered against Swansea; plenty of cover to go in the central defensive area. And having backups in the attacking positions is something, thankfully, the Blues have never had a problem with. All in all, the perfect platform for Conte to build on.
When Liverpool and Arsenal exposed the ginormous frailty that Chelsea had in the midfield, it was clear that 4-3-3 is not going to bear fruits if Oscar disappears every now and again. Obviously, until a stern test of Chelsea’s new system arrives, there’s not really a way to know where the weakness is; for there appears to be none. The only thing that could stop the team from accomplishing its objectives, however, is something that has transpired over from last season: the sudden disappearance of form and even willingness from some of the most pivotal players.
Even though Hazard started the campaign brightly, scoring 2 goals in the opening 3 matches, he has more or less kicked a ball about here and there since. Willian is yet to jumpstart his engines, though his recent performance for Brazil and against Hull City for Chelsea indicates a return to his kick-ass best. And, well, Nemanja Matic…where to begin…
His fall from grace has been steadfast, and while he still does not boast his usually monstrous self, he looks on the road to recovery and could soon regain his confidence.
And that’s perhaps all this team really needs. Not a tactical check-mate. Not Eden Hazard carrying this team on his back. Just a boost of confidence that can ignite the belief within this set of players that clearly have the ability of winners. Antonio Conte has built a strong tactical gameplan. He now needs to make every single player feel and play like a champion.
Alas, only if it was that easy.