Antonio Conte just told the hierarchy to make 4 more signings that will enable him achieve this season’s targets. When you profile the players in question- Sandro a left back who can play as left wing back, a certain Ox-Chamberlain that is an attacking midfielder; with power and pace operating as a right back (right wing back, Candreva a right back, who’s strength is in crossing, holding the ball, set pieces and very good passer…V.Dijk a centre back, Llorente a striker and Renato/Alexis, you get this feeling that it won’t be business as usual.
Conte is a coach that knows how to chop and change when necessary, as he did in our title winning campaign. Now the problem is that most teams mirrored the 3-4-3 formation in a bid to counter it, which leads to this discussion.
To state it as it is, Chelsea needs to evolve, as it wouldn’t be wrong to say that rivals have found out the system and its workings, as it didn’t work quite so well at the turn of the year-United, Tottenham and even Arsenal all outplayed Chelsea with this formation. If we pit this statistically, it will read like this- no clean sheet in 11 matches between January-April. To bring into perspective, compare that figure to 6 clean sheets in a row, immediately Conte switched to a back 3.
In this modern era of football, with all the technology available, data collation, analysis and attention to details have made it easy for a formation to be air tight and unbeaten one moment but weak and flawed the very next.
Manchester United man marked Eden with Herrera very effectively, as that tactical ingenuity by Jose left Chelsea without a creative player in the match, leaving us chasing shadows. Spurs easily showed Cahill’s lack of mobility, positioning and speed during our game at the Lane. Even Azpi wasn’t left out when Dele ran riot with two headers, exposing Cesar’s height deficiency. Teams like City, West Brom caused us problems, especially when Cesc was played alongside Kante, showing his lack of pace, positional indiscipline, always moving forward leaving spaces behind to be exploited.
A thinker man that believes in perfection, working hard to stay a step ahead, I can comfortably say Conte will play a 4-2-4 formation next season. Yes one can argue he won the league with a back 3; why change? Nothing is cast in stone, as Antonio have played with a defensive line of 4 many times. He favoured this style at Bari & Juventus too, which he started his Chelsea career with- (Costa & Michy, was supposed to be up front). Albeit he abandoned it after one month; the Arsenal walloping, he’s going to use it again, especially now he has the right players to execute that. He also demonstrated his trust in it, using it at the crucial matches vs West Brom, where Batshuayi scored the winner and Turf Moor against Burnley in our 1-1 draw. It obviously didn’t work with Diego, but Morata and either Michy/Llorente possibly will be a better suited partnership. Sandro to play left back, while Luiz & Rudiger/Cahill sits at CB…Azpi of course holds down his favoured RB, as Tiemoue/Kante holds the midfield and protects the back 4. Hazard & Willian/Pedro runs the left and right flanks interchangeably as wingers, leaving Michy and Morata up front to do damage. As sad as it might sound Fabregas, Alonso, Llorente, Moses Boga, et al will all become super subs, the flip side; Depth. The seasons have becomes more gruelling and demanding- your depth determines your altitude in this case.
The closest thing or alternate formation will be a 3-5-2 which Conte have used a lot too, when bringing Cesc into play, being the best creative midfielder the blues has available. Morata will definitely feed off Cesc and flourish in with this style.
Playing a 4-4-2 will be another master stroke from the Italian tactician – in the Coverciano they are taught how to make a plan A, B, C and D for every match. The ploy will take rivals by storm same way a back 3 did, with Chelsea stringing an unbeaten run that equalled and nearly surpassed the record for a single season.
With kick off in 14 days, we can’t wait to have our beloved Roman Army gracing our screens once again, as the gaffer becomes his animated self, screaming and howling instructions – he lives every match by the second- like Vin Diesel in F & F…a quarter mile at a time. Whatever the case is at the end of the day, we believe that Chelsea is the team to beat and will pick up from there they left off last term, beating, scoring and making minced meat of the so-called rivals.
What do you make of these thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!