Sports from the Basement

How Antonio Conte Has Changed Chelsea’s Playing Style

Few European teams have been playing as good as Chelsea right now. The Blues have dominated the English Premier League, and they are deservedly at the top of the league standings. They have faced tough competition, but time and time again they’ve come out on top.

With 46 points in 18 matches, Chelsea leads the English Premier League with six points of advantage over Liverpool. Several things could work as explanations for the uptick in form, but the main one is the presence of Antonio Conte as the manager.

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Everything starts with the tactical change. After playing the past few years with a 4-2-3-1 system, Conte reverted back to the system he used in Juventus. Several experts believed that a 3-4-3 tactic wouldn’t work in England, but Conte proved them wrong. And he’s doing it with players he trusts, not just with the big names on the squad. He’s been making lots of experiments with different players, and all of them have worked.

For instance, César Azpilicueta has spent his entire career as a fullback, but his season he has excelled as a center back. Victor Moses was an attacking-minded winger who converted as a wide midfielder. And former FC Barcelona star Pedro Rodriguez has thrived on the attack alongside Eden Hazard and Diego Costa.

There’s no Willian and no Nemanja Matic anymore. Thibaut Courtois, David Luiz and Gary Cahill have solidified things defensively. And Cesc Fabregas is once again the dynamic playmaker he was a few years ago. Conte is doing it on his own, and he’s having results.

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Aside from the collective force they’ve been, it’s no secret the team has been playing well on an individual level as well. Let’s face it – who could’ve thought that players like Marcos Alonso and Moses would have such a big impact on the team? The Nigerian has emerged as a threat on the right side of midfield, while Alonso covers the entire left flank just like he did with Fiorentina last year.

Costa and Hazard deserve a special mention. The former Atletico Madrid striker is one of the top scorers in the league with 13 goals in 17 matches, and he’s looking as dangerous as ever. On the other hand, the Belgian winger re-discovered his best form following a down 2015-16 season. And the stats back that up, as Hazard already has nine goals in 17 games. To make a comparison, he only scored foul goals in 39 appearances across all competitions last season. Once again he’s been one of the best players in the league, and Chelsea needs him to be successful.

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Conte’s tactical system might not be popular across the world, but it’s effective. It worked with Juventus, and it’s now working with Chelsea. Barring an epic collapse, all signs indicate that they’re the main favorites to lift the EPL trophy at the end of the campaign.

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