Three Boxing Day lessons learnt, feat. Chelsea and Crystal Palace
The finest day of the football calendar, Boxing Day, has passed. Although, Stoke City and Liverpool played on the 27th of December this year. It didn’t conjure any festive classics but it reinforced the Premier League storylines that have been developing thus far: Swansea defend worse than Palace, the Conte revolution at Chelsea is the greatest thing since the invention of the wheel, Mourinho is rebuilding United slowly but surely, Liverpool are powerhouses going forward, and Leicester City are sick to the bone with next-season syndrome.
Here are three lessons to be taken from the festive football thus far:
Chelsea are a well-oiled machine
The media seemed to prescribe an apocalypse for Chelsea against Bournemouth. The absences of free-scoring Diego Costa and impenetrable workhorse N’Golo Kante coupled with the mystic nature of Premier League football in December spelled out a potentially memorable upset at the bridge for Antonio Conte’s league-leaders.
Too bad Chelsea didn’t read the script.
The Blues dispatched Bournemouth with ease, promenading to a 12th straight win. The win demonstrated however how Antonio Conte has not built a winning lineup at Chelsea, but a winning system. The 3-4-3 system was maintained and the missing parts were rearranged. Fabregas paired Matic and Pedro played as a false nine and Chelsea fans were treated to a pleasant 3-0 win with nice goals included. A structure, epitomized by the 3-4-3 formation, has been indoctrinated into Chelsea’s squad allowing players to adapt to new positions better than they did with Mourinho.
Although Mourinho is well known for his tactical flexibility, his many attempts to reassign positions and systems were often fruitless. Mourinho tried the false nine system unsuccessfully before, noticeably when he played Andre Schurrle up front in 2014 against United.