Last season Chelsea manager Antonio Conte made the 3-4-3 formation popular. After losing 3-0 to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in the sixth game of their Premier League campaign last term, the Italian made a tactical switch which led to the Blues going on a 13-game winning streak that ultimately ended in Chelsea winning the Premier League title during Conte’s first season in charge.
The Chelsea manager is at it again this season and this time not many people seem to be noticing. In the last two games; firstly against Manchester United and then this past weekend’s win at West Brom, Chelsea lined up in a 3-5-2 formation. The tactical change has seen the Blues keep back-to-back clean sheets in their last two Premier League matches – 1-0 against Manchester United and 4-0 over West Brom.
Conte has been praising the tactical change. According to the Italian, Chelsea have found a balance between defence and attack as a result of the formation switch:
“This season I think we’re changing something to find a new balance, a new solidity, to have a good balance when we are attacking and when we are defending. I hope to continue to improve. This is the second game we finished with a clean sheet and we have to continue in this way,” Conte said.
Just like the 3-0 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium last season, the 3-0 defeat in the Champions League away to AS Roma last month seems to have forced Conte to change Chelsea’s formation, and it seems the 3-5-2 formation is working, judging by the two clean sheets the Blues have managed in the league since the tactical change.
Although it must be said that the return of N’Golo Kante to the team has largely contributed to Chelsea finding their form again. The Frenchman has been key to Chelsea’s three man centre midfield since his return back from injury. The Blues have had to battle with different problems which has in effect eliminated any chance they have to defend their Premier League title. This problem Conte claims he is working to solve to avoid a repeat:
“In this season we faced a lot of problems from the start,” Conte continued.
“Now we’re trying to solve these problems, to recover the players, to find the right form for players like (Eden) Hazard and also (Alvaro) Morata; this is the first season that he’s playing with regularity. (N’Golo) Kante is recovering good form and you know very well the importance of these players for us. Also (Danny) Drinkwater, now he’s starting to play.”
“We had a lot of problems and also we’re trying to change something in the tactical aspect, to find different solutions. When you concede so many goals it means you have to find a new balance and solidity.