3-4-3: Chelsea continue to stake their claim to the title

When Chelsea fell to a disappointing 3-0 defeat to their London rivals, Arsenal, at the end of September, the pressure was starting to pile on Antonio Conte, in a job renowned for its impatience with its manager.

Since then though, Chelsea have been unrecognisable. They have won five consecutive matches in the Premier League, without conceding a goal in the process.

Their form is all the more impressive with their performances against Leicester, Manchester United and most recently Everton, as Conte’s side completely obliterated their opponents in devastating fashion.

All of this has come in conjunction with the Blues reverting to Conte’s favoured 3-4-3 formation. This is the same formation which helped him to accumulate so much success whilst at Italian giants, Juventus and more recently as the Italian head coach.

His side look rejuvenated playing under this new formula. All of his players seem to be enjoying their football, they are terrorising their opponents in attack and they seem to have eradicated their defensive problems which have been hampering them for some time.

One of Conte’s primary assets as a manager is his defensive set-up. He’s had to wait for certain players to return to full fitness before adopting his favoured 3-4-3 style, but now his defence is thriving.

Gary Cahill has returned to his best form but perhaps more surprisingly, David Luiz has also been very impressive.

The Brazilian seems to have learned from the Italian, Conte, to adopt a more no-nonsense style of defending which has been lacking on his behalf throughout his career. This has helped him to cut down on the amount of individual errors that he has accumulated previously.

Arguably the player who has benefited most from this change of system is Victor Moses. The Nigerian international was seemingly completely out of the picture at Chelsea, with him spending numerous loan spells away from the club during previous regimes, failing to accumulate a single league appearance for Chelsea.

But since Conte has arrived, he asked the 25-year-old, who is predominantly a winger, to has adjust and play as a wing-back in his new formula and he has done so superbly.

He has an abundance of pace and his direct nature of running at his opponents will always cause problems. But most impressively, he has shown his maturity and alertness in defensive areas, which some would not have expected from the winger.

Chelsea’s summer purchase of N’Golo Kante from Leicester always seemed to be an astute bit of business on Conte’s part, but any doubters he may have had have been proved wrong given his early performances. The 25-year-old has played alongside Nemanja Matic in centre midfield and they have complimented each other perfectly.

Kante and Matic have both took up box-to-box roles so far this term, winning the ball high up the field to break up play and to pressurise their opponents on the ball to lead to errors.

This midfield duo have done brilliantly and they are a vital part of Conte’s side, laying the ground work for his more creative players to exploit their opponents defence in brutal fashion.

The 2014-15 PFA Player of the Season award winner Eden Hazard has perhaps been their shining light this campaign. He had an awful season last year, falling way short of his full potential. But so far this time out, he is flourishing.

He has already surpassed his goal tally from last term with him currently on seven league goals. His most impressive display came against Everton on Saturday, as he scored twice and tormented the Evertonian backline all evening in what was a world-class performance of which we have not seem of him for some time.

Hazard is one of three in Chelsea’s forward line, alongside the infamous Diego Costa, who has been grabbing the headlines for the right reasons this season, and Pedro, who is formerly of FC Barcelona.

This trio have been phenomenal and it is clear that they and the rest of their team are really enjoying their football, which was clearly not the case during Jose Mourinho’s final season in charge.

The Spaniard, Costa, is currently the top goal scorer in the Premier League and is finally showing his fine array of attributes. He has it all one his day. He’s a menace in the air, he is quick and is capable of out-strengthening any of the league’s defenders and his finishing ability when on form is amongst the best in the league.

Finally Pedro, who had a slow start to his time at Chelsea, is undoubtedly showing his full abilities now. It takes some doing to leave the likes of Oscar out of the starting eleven and he is more than justifying his place in the team.

When on their game, this intimidating trio are capable of causing problems for any defence in the league, as shown with the demolition of Everton, Manchester United and Leicester City.

Chelsea have clearly shown these past few weeks that while playing at their full capabilities, they are capable of keeping up with the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal in the title race, which is set to be the closest and most hard fought to date.



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