In the last two games Chelsea FC manager Antonio Conte has deployed a 3-5-2 formation due to the dilemma of figuring out how to play Cesc Fabregas.
Antonio Conte had Chelsea set up in a new formation against Crystal Palace with N’Golo Kante, Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas all starting. That was the first time fans have seen all three midfielders start a match.
This is clearly due to the great performances of Cesc Fabregas which has made it hard for Antonio Conte to drop him. Conte feels the influence that the play-maker has on the team’s attacking prowess outweighs the negatives of Fabregas’s game… namely his defensive weaknesses.
Although Conte reverted back to his trusted 3-4-3 against Manchester City, with Fabregas and Kante starting, it was clear that Chelsea FC missed the defensive abilities that Matic provides. Manchester City had too much time and space in the middle and Kante was overworked as Fabregas isn’t that type of player.
So, Conte bravely subbed off Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma at half-time and brought on Nemanja Matic. This was a genius move from Antonio Conte as Chelsea were able to deal with City’s attacks more comfortably with Matic and Kante screening the back three. While Fabregas moved into a more forward position. This move proved to be an effective managerial decision that completely numbed the Manchester City attack.
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Antonio Conte will be well used to the 3-5-2 formation as it was the his preferred set up at Juventus. Conte also played this formation with Italy in the Euros 2016 which wielded great results from an average team.
Much like how earlier on in the season where Conte saw that the team needed a change and implemented the 3-4-3 in the second half against Arsenal after their humiliating 3-0 defeat. It appears Conte is trying out a new formation again. Conte has been slowly and gradually adapting Chelsea and molding them into his preferred 3-5-2 formation throughout the season. He started off with a 4-2-3-1 and then went to a 3-4-3 and now it appears he’s gone to his trusted 3-5-2 in recent games.
The 3-5-2 formation I believe suits Chelsea much better as the 3-4-3 formation only allows two midfielders and Fabregas really can’t be trusted to put in a defensive effort in a two man midfield. The 3-5-2 allows for Matic, Kante and Fabregas to operate through the midfield which gives the team more balance in attack and defense. Without Fabregas, the team often lack ideas going forward and don’t have a passer with vision to pick out Eden Hazard.
It was clear that N’Golo Kante was absolutely shattered after the first half against Manchester City as he was essentially doing the job of two midfielders. This was due to City’s overload in the middle of the park. David Silva, De Bruyne, Delph, and Fernandinho simply outnumbered the little Frenchman and Fabregas was nowhere to be seen. If Conte hadn’t brought on Nemanja Matic, I believe City would’ve won that game. But luckily for Chelsea fans, they held out for a very important 2-1 win over Pep Guardiola’s team.
It appears Antonio Conte is preparing his team for a new formation next season. Conte is testing it out and Chelsea fans are seeing a preview of what could be a dominant team next season. It’s important in football to always be one step ahead of your opponents. Conte has seen that teams have figured out how to play against Chelsea, with several teams even electing to match Chelsea’s formation against them.
The new 3-5-2 will allow Fabregas to simply focus on providing his beautiful passes to teammates while Matic and Kante do the dirty work. It will also mean that Hazard will play up front with Costa/ Morata/ Lukaku (whoever Chelsea sign in the summer).
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This will also mean that there will be an even bigger reliance on the wing-backs at Chelsea because there will be no width provided by the wingers in Pedro and Willian. With Hazard in his free roaming position and the striker up front, the wing-backs will have to be even more attacking. This will mean that Chelsea FC will have to go after one or two wing-backs this summer to provide cover and competition for Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses.
It’s imperative, in fact that Chelsea sign a good wing-back as we’ve seen with Moses’s injury the whole system and formation has had to change because Chelsea lack any wing-backs on the bench. Expect Chelsea to be linked with a long list of wing-backs in the summer. Additionally this new formation could spell the end for winger Willian as he will most probably be surplus to requirements.
Chelsea will also have to buy a new striker if Costa leaves which looks likely. Hazard could be partnered up top with Morata or Lukaku.
I also expect a midfield signing to possibly upgrade on or provide competition for Matic with Monaco’s Tiemoue Bakayoko being linked to Chelsea FC recently