Chelsea emerged victorious in Antonio Conte’s first game in charge, but it took a late strike to secure the victory against West Ham, leaving questions surrounding the Blues best starting XI. The Italian opted to start the game with a 4-1-4-1 formation, but it is possible he may now decide to revert to the 4-2-4 he experimented with in pre-season.
At the time of writing, Chelsea are 5/1 in the football betting to win the Premier League, but early signs suggest that if they can click under the new manager soon they could make a mockery of those odds. In the game against their London rivals there were promising indications that the Stamford Bridge side could step up to full throttle in the near future.
It is imperative that the former Juventus boss strikes on a winning formula as quickly as possible, so his players can form a solid unit similar to the one that marched to the title two seasons ago. Could this be the ideal line-up to push forward?
DL Azpilicueta – DCL Terry – DCR Cahill – DR Ivanovic
MCL_Kante – MCR_Oscar
WL Hazard – FCL Costa – FCR Batshuayi – WR Willian
After having decided to start the game with Diego Costa as the lone striker, Conte may now believe that the best way to play to the deadly goal machine’s strengths is for him to have a partner up front. The Spanish international’s goal came soon after the new signing, Michy Batshuayi, entered the fray. The Belgian provided the assist to Costa’s goal and this could be a hint that the two forwards could form a dangerous alliance.
Costa can often get frustrated if he is the lone striker getting closed down by the centre-backs. With a strike partner, he could be allowed more freedom to get into goal scoring positions as the defenders track the other man. In the same way, the 27-year-old could be a nuisance for defenders to deal with, to allow the faster Batshuayi more space to break free. This is how Costa used to operate a lot of the time at Atletico Madrid with Radamel Falcao.
Eden Hazard and Willian both looked fearsome, and their spots in the wide positions should be secure. If the Brazilian can continue the form that made him Chelsea’s best player last season, and the Belgian can rediscover his instinct from the title-winning campaign, the two players will be vital.
N’Golo Kante showed what a good signing he could turn out to be as he bossed the centre of the park with a pass completion rate of 96.3% in the opponent’s half. Although he wasn’t charging down opposition all over the pitch like he did at Leicester City, Kante could do the job of two men in midfield which would allow Oscar freedom to roam forward on the attack. Nemanja Matic could also be suitable in this role, but Oscar’s creative abilities may be favoured by the attack-minded manager.
With the season yet to get fully underway it may be premature to suggest that Chelsea could storm to the title again. But the performance against the Irons and the tactical astuteness of the new manager suggest that this is a team ready to rise from the ashes.