As a result of the crushing 3-0 defeat away at Arsenal, Antonio Conte decided that it was time for a change at Chelsea following a defensive horror show at the Emirates that saw the game all-but over in the first period.
In different managerial jobs, for example Juventus and Italy, we have seen Conte setup his teams with three at the back, and up until after the game away at Arsenal, Chelsea had been playing with four at the back.
Conte’s three at the back system made its Chelsea debut away at Hull City, where the Blues recorded a solid 2-0 win and went away with all three points. Three defenders were also deployed against Leicester City at the weekend, and it was another win for Chelsea, this time with a strong 3-0 victory over the champions at Stamford Bridge.
In short, Conte’s system has had an almost instant impact since the change with two wins from two. The switch has certainly benefited winger Eden Hazard, and Conte will be glad to see the Belgian playing some of his best stuff again.
However, in the two games that Conte has played his three at the back system, Chelsea have come up against a couple of teams that are seriously under-performing. For starters, we saw Hull concede six away at Bournemouth on Saturday as their defensive woes continue. They look far from the team they were in the first few games of the season.
Then we look at Leicester, who are somehow managing to defend their title worse than Chelsea did last season under Jose Mourinho. Losing Kante over the summer was a huge blow for Ranieri’s side, and they look far from the title-winning side that they were last season. To be perfectly honest, a 3-0 win in the Blues’ favour was something that I was not surprised at all by.
On Sunday, Chelsea come up against Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United in the Portuguese manager’s return to Stamford Bridge. Although United have not been at their best this season, I feel that they will be a lot more disciplined and a lot harder to break down that Hull and Leicester.
You get the feeling in the build-up to the match that Mourinho will set his team up in a slightly negative fashion that will look to catch Chelsea on the counter-attack, inviting Chelsea pressure. I feel that it is only after we have observed what happens in the match against Manchester United that we can judge how successful the formation change at Chelsea has really been and whether it really is the way forward.