Connect in the back of the net

September 16th, 36th minute at Stamford Bridge, Jordan Henderson unleashes an unstoppable long range shot and has Thibaut Courtois beaten for the second time of the day.

Eight days later, Chelsea lose 3-0 to Arsenal away at the Emirates and plunge into the first crisis of the Conte era.

At that point, Chelsea stand ten points behind EPL leaders Manchester City.

Fast forward five months, and Chelsea have come full circle; earning a deserved 1-1 draw against Liverpool at Anfield and followed up with a convincing 3-1 home win vs Arsenal.

How has Conte turned the table around?

 

Consistency

Since the Arsenal defeat and the inspired switch to the 3-4-3 formation, Chelsea have been the most consistent team in the league.

Their record against teams outside the top four is outstanding, having lost to none of them and drawn to only one all season.

In other words, Chelsea have won all the games they were expected to win.

In contrast, Liverpool have done well against the top six, but lost seven times, all to teams currently sitting 10th or below in the league.

Spurs have the least amount of defeats in the league, but managed the most number of draws out of the teams in the top four, having drawn eight times in twenty four games.

Manchester City and Arsenal have both been highly inconsistent, losing five times, to top and low ranked opposition alike.

 

Organization

Chelsea players get interviewed week in and week out about Conte’s management, and the common theme that keeps on coming back is that they all know what to do.

Gary Cahill, David Luiz, Marcos Alonso and Eden Hazard have all echoed this sentiment.

Conte has definitely benefitted from being out of the Champions league and leveraged the additional time he gets on the training pitch with his team.

He has drilled specific defensive, transition and attacking moves into his squad and developed automatisms, which have translated into efficient execution.

Along with Spurs, Chelsea are the best organized team in the league. They defend as a unit and stretch the opposition by attacking with numbers.

 

Concentration

Following the vital 3-1 win vs Arsenal this past weekend, during the post match interview, it was quite telling that Conte chose to emphasize his frustration with his team conceding a goal in the dying minutes of the game.

After all, they had just dropped a direct rival out of the title race; yet, the Italian was going on about the meaningless goal they had conceded.

Yet, this should be no surprise, this is what the Italian manager is about.

He could sense, and so could I, that Chelsea got sloppy towards the end of the game. There was a sense of complacency after Fabregas’ third goal.

Given the opportunity to pass to any of two unmarked Chelsea players in the opposite box, Diego Costa went for a selfish shot from a tight angle.

Olivier Giroud went on to score an unchallenged header in the following attack.

This sort of mistakes has been uncharacteristic from Chelsea; they have maintained high level of concentration from game start to end.

Conte made a point to send his team a message publicly, and will without a doubt emphasize it in private.

 

Defining week

Last week was a defining one in the EPL.

We’ve seen the table leaders widen the gap at the top thanks to a deserved draw away at Anfield, and a convincing home win vs Arsenal.

It was testament to the work Conte has put in at Chelsea.

The team looks completely changed from the one that suffered comprehensive back to back defeats to Liverpool than Arsenal back in September.

My money is now on the Italian to see the job through and bring the title back to the Bridge.

 

Written by Charles Codo

Follow Charles on Twitter @soccerCrave

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