After an excellent start, Antonio Conte’s new Chelsea approached the second Premier League stop with 13 points in 7 matches and just five points behind the league leader. Newsworthy were the two fiascos against Liverpool and Arsenal, almost a novelty for the Italian manager who had not been defeated twice in a row since December 2009 when he was coaching Atalanta. From there he picked up with a win against Hull City and a formation change. It was a necessary change for various reasons.

Coaching World  4-1-4-1-VS-3-4-3

4-1-4-1 VS 3-4-3

In the first six matches, Conte set up a 4-1-4-1 formation that he had never used before in his career. In the latest skirmish with the Tigers, on the other hand, he veered toward a 3-4-3 formation that is very similar to what we saw with Juventus and the Italian national squad. It appears that the player who benefited the most was Kanté, used for internal insertions and covered by Matic, unlike what had happened until now. The ex-Leicester player completed 70 passes, his record in Premier League. Add to that 4 interceptions, 13 recovered balls, 3 dribbling moves completed and two scoring opportunities created. It was, perhaps, his best match since he has been with the Blues.

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In 7 matches, Chelsea has scored 12 goals and conceded 9. They went home empty-handed only against Arsenal, but they left with only two clean sheets against Burnley and Hull City. The Blues defence ranks ninth in the Premier League and this is undoubtedly the main problem Conte faces. This is why he chose to switch to a three-man defence.

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With 6 goals and 2 assists in 7 matches, Diego Costa is back to top levels. The Spaniard appears to have all the qualities Conte needs in a striker. Rapid exchange one-two plays, power and finishing skills. However, the main problem is finding a player who can complete the front line alongside him. Batshuayi tried, but especially during the match when, trying to bring home the spoils, Chelsea switched to the 4-2-4 formation and began to exploit second balls better.


  • Conte has revitalized Chelsea, but the reciprocal process of adaptation between team and coach has been slowed down by players who are less than entirely on board with the Italian’s tactical credo.
  • The main problem remains defensive stability, in some ways exacerbated by the increased push to attack.
  • The switch to the 3-5-2/3-4-3 formation may be the right solution to get the project off the ground, but in the short term, the Blues seem to have the qualities to be able to get the upper hand against rivals on their level, not against the main title contenders.

Mattia Fontana
Mattia Fontana, Eurosport Italia editor.