Antonio Conte’s Tactical Genius Responsible for Chelsea’s Potent Form

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Antonio Conte is the brightest football mind on the planet. There. Finished. Done. Oh you don’t believe me? Fine. Here we go.

Chelsea have won seven games straight since a 3-0 loss to Arsenal at the Emirates in September. In that span, they have conceded a single goal. Chelsea is simply ripping Premier League teams apart. In my short lifetime I have never seen a more dominant two months of premier league football than the form Chelsea is experiencing right now. Since the 1st of October, Chelsea have found the back of the net 19 times, and Thibaut Courtois has only picked the ball out of his own net once. That’s an unprecedented +18 goal differential throughout seven matches. Those victories included some quite formidable opponents nonetheless. Last year’s champions Leicester City, were taken down by the tune of three to nil. One of the most expensive clubs in the world, Manchester United, were thrashed by four Chelsea scores. And most recently undefeated (no longer) Tottenham were bested two goals to one. How did this change of fortune and form happen? Antonio Conte.

In the second half of the Arsenal defeat, Conte broke out a formation and style of play much anticipated from the Italian since he was announced as Chelsea boss. Conte’s 3-4-3 formation has been employed and unchanged ever since. In fact this is the first time in the premier league era that Chelsea have gone seven straight games without changing a single player from the starting eleven. Said formation looks a little something like this:

I would love to pinpoint a player who has most benefitted from the switch, but literally every single player has. Courtois saw six straight clean sheets during the first six games of this win streak, a stat any keeper would be pleased about. Gary Cahill has recovered from his shocking form in the beginning half of the season, Azpilicueta is as rampant as ever, neatly winning balls and distributing them through the middle and up the flanks. A signing pinned as “worse than when he first left Chelsea”, David Luiz has looked world-class. His momentum changing tackles, breath taking free kicks (he will hit one eventually mark my words) and Cesc-esque long balls have been enough to rid him of the “Playstation footballer” Gary Neville dubbed him as in 2011. Marcos Alonso a summer “panic buy” has looked solid. Whether he is winning defensive headers, getting up the left flank, or nutmegging goalkeepers, he has been phenomenal. Victor Moses. The man loaned out only God knows how many times, and when actually playing for Chelsea, been a “fringe player”, is now a Barcelona transfer target. Antonio Conte successfully turned a forgotten winger into a damn good Cafu imitation. Possibly the only player more relentless than Moses has been N’Golo Kante. The man with more stamina than the Energizer bunny stole the hearts of Premier League fans worldwide last year with Cinderella story Leicester City. In his new outfit, he has failed to disappoint, even tallying his first Chelsea goal against Manchester United.

 

His counterpart, Nemanja Matić, has rediscovered his form after falling out of favor last year. Sitting only behind Chelsea product Kevin De Bruyne in the assist leaders table. His interplay with Eden Hazard has been especially key in his upswing of form. Pedro. What a beautiful man. His inclusion in the lineup over last year’s Chelsea Player of the Year, Willian, seemed dodgy at first but boy has it paid off. Netting three times, and assisting five times, he has looked the role of a complete wide forward. Maybe the most significant goal yet of this Chelsea season was scored by Pedro as he Cruyff-turned and struck the back of the net to pull Chelsea level just before half-time against Tottenham.

A former Premier League Player of the Year, and a former magician pulling a brilliant disappearing act last season, Eden Hazard is back. The most dominating player in the premier league makes a living out of turning world-class defenders into mannequins. He has been nothing short of amazing this year, finding the back of the net seven times and assisting once. His crème de la crème performance came against Everton, where he orchestrated a five to none defeat, beating the Everton midfield, defence and keeper a pair of times.

 

Lastly, the big, bad, bully of a striker Diego Costa. A player who suffered under Jose Mourinho last season, Costa is the best goal scorer during the 2016-2017 campaign (tied with Sergio Aguero). His ten goals and four assists are best and third best for Chelsea this season. His prettiest strike came against Southampton, which was voted Chelsea goal of the month for October.

Finally I must talk about Antonio Cone. He truly has shaped this side into one with more identity, character and class. After taking a team that had 12 wins all of last season, to one with 10 before Christmas, he is much deserved of the praise he has received. His tactical intuitiveness, passion for the game and control over the demeanor of the team is remarkable. Antonio Conte turned a tenth place team in the league to a top team in the world in the matter of a few months. Chelsea look to continue their form against Manchester City tomorrow morning at 7:30 EST. Here’s to Chelsea and more Antonio Conte goal celebrations.

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