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Antonio Conte's vision at Chelsea is taking shape

Monday 1st May 2017
Chelsea's push for the title seems to be leading them to redemption this term, with the Blues looking to apologise to their fans for last season in the best possible way. It has been an outstanding campaign for  Antonio Conte's side, with the Italian on the verge of a maiden Premier League title.

Shaky Start

For Conte, the season has been a huge success, but it did not start so well. Following a 2-1 defeat against Liverpool at the start of the season, there were rumblings that the Italian may be on the verge of losing his job, such is the incredibly volatile nature of the managerial position at Stamford Bridge.

Another defeat, this time a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Arsenal in September threatened to further derail his team's season, Conte decided that action should be taken. The Italian was utilising a more conventional formation in the league, with four players at the back, but this didn't work for the manager as his side struggled hugely.

Revised Tactics

This prompted Conte to switch to a far more European formation. His three at the back, or five with the two wing-backs has been a revelation this season. It means that there are three centre-halves in front of the goalkeeper, flooding the defensive areas in both wing-play from crosses and attacks through the centre.

In conjunction with this, the wing-backs are able to provide a huge amount of width going forward, along with their defensive abilities.

This has seen the revitalisation of Victor Moses and the emergence of Marcos Alonso as two superb wing-backs, while David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta have seen their stock grow massively this term.

It has not just been a change that has aided the Blues though. Arsenal and Tottenham have both adopted the formation to good effect. The Gunners have struggled defensively for years, but their ability to play with five men at the back helps to solidify them, while Spurs are comfortable utilising three centre-halves, with Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Eric Dier all adept when on the ball, thus meaning they do not lose players that are happy with the ball at their feet.

However, it is not a change that should be made lightly. Ronald Koeman deemed it necessary to switch to a formation to match Chelsea's in Everton's game against the Blues in November, and they were subsequently hammered 5-0 by Conte's side.

Therefore, without the correct preparation and tactics, the change can cause a lot of confusion and difficulty in the ranks of the team.

Playing with five defenders is not something new though, especially in Italy. Juventus have championed the craft for years, utilising the likes of Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci to great effect at the back. The three are powerful old-fashioned defenders that relish a physical defensive challenge. Together, they form one of the most formidable defences in world football, and they remain the dominant force in Italy, with so much of their success predicated on their defence.

Conte was the man that brought what was seen as an unfashionable formation to England and it has become the go to shape of the Premier League's top two teams. While Conte has his players and the high levels they are currently hitting to thank for his current position, the Italian should be given no end of plaudits for going against the grain and picking a formation that is helping Chelsea close in on yet another Premier League title.
Ben Darvill

I graduated with an upper second class degree in English and Creative writing from Cardiff Metropolitan University. I have been a freelance sports writer since leaving University and have written for a number of online websites. I am a Chelsea and England fan but I enjoy watching any team play as I have an intense passion for football.

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