How have Antonio Conte's unbeatable Chelsea continued to impress?
“Chelsea will be top going into the start of 2017”, words that seemed a distant dream just 365 days ago. The car crash that was Jose Mourinho’s third season meltdown has been forgotten as new coach Antonio Conte has seamlessly filled the void.
Chelsea have found themselves with the advantage going into the new year and have hit form at a great time. Conte’s men strolled to a 3-0 home win over Bournemouth on Boxing Day, this extended Chelsea’s run to 12 consecutive premier league victories.
Going into this season’s campaign the talk was all about the two free-spending Manchester clubs, not forgetting the battle between Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola. Conte has quietly gone about his business, methodically and pragmatically. The league leaders are a completely different animal to last season, this is mainly due to the fact that Eden Hazard and Diego Costa seem to have found their focus and purpose again.
Yes, Chelsea did spend big money in the Summer, £112 million to be exact – of which £95 million was recouped. Four big signings for Conte that have added some stability to the squad as well as adding more competition within their player roster.
Michy Batshuayi (£33.15 million – Marseille), N’Golo Kante (£30.43 million – Leicester City), David Luiz (£29.75 million – Paris St-Germain) and Marcos Alonso (£19.55 million – Fiorentina) have all made a telling contribution this season, no-one more so than Kante who has added solidity in front of the Chelsea defence.
The Conte effect
The biggest question mark against the current Chelsea coach was that his only real achievements were at Juventus, a club where he had played for the best part of 13 years, he is going the right way about proving his doubters wrong.
Chelsea’s last Premier League defeat was seemingly a demoralising 3-0 loss away at Arsenal. If anything, that gave Conte the opportunity to try something new. Chelsea have been operating with a back-three and wing back since that game and it has freed up Eden Hazard further up the pitch, which has given Chelsea a new dimension.
Conte always preferred a 3-4-3 system in his time managing in his homeland, so it is with very little surprise that he has adopted this so successfully at Stamford Bridge. It has given Chelsea the ideal medium between defending and attacking. The roles of Alonso, Kante and Victor Moses cannot be underestimated in this system.
Chelsea have been impressive at both ends so far this season. They have the meanest defence in the league conceding just 11 goals and have scored 38 goals in 18 games. They also have the current league’s top goalscorer Diego Costa who Conte has transformed from last season. He seems to have cut out the petulance of last season and is getting the best out of the Spain centre-forward.
As the saying goes, “it is a marathon, not a sprint”. However, Chelsea are in a great position going into the new year. Their rivals are playing catch up and at present Conte’s men are the only ones that seem to be able to put a consistent run together.
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