The Mind of Conte: How the Italian’s blueprint is finally taking shape at Chelsea

Charles’ latest “The Mind of Conte” column.

Following the most impressive wins from the men in blue  against Leicester City and Manchester United, here are some thoughts on what stood out to me.

 

Dynamic front three

Conte’s front three is in many ways reminiscent of the Malouda, Drogba, Anelka trio that led Chelsea to a domestic double during Carlo Ancelotti’s first season at the club.

Carlo’s three forwards played a very fluid game, constantly interchanging positions and combining.

They all took turns throughout games, at occupying the central striker position.

Since the switch to the 3-4-3 formation, Conte has been asking his front three to play much closer to each other, and given them freedom to exchange positions as well.

Against Leicester City, Costa’s average position was deeper than that of both Pedro and Hazard.

The interchange between them makes them less predictable and harder for defenders to follow and man-mark.

 

High pressing

Chelsea’s third goal vs United was the perfect illustration of the pressing game Conte wants to drill into the players.

It all stemmed from both Cahill and Luiz challenging and recovering an aerial ball in the central circle.

These are both Chelsea center backs, challenging for the ball in the middle of the park, which is a good indication of how high the blues’ defensive line was.

By the time the ball was recovered, Chelsea had no less than seven players in United’s half and around their area; only the three center backs had stayed behind for cover in case of a counter attack.

 

High tempo

Conte will be pleased with the tempo displayed by his team both with and without the ball.

Against Leicester and United, the blues were both quick to close the opposition down, and move the ball quickly with purpose.

Passes were meaningful; the wing backs provided the width required to stretch the opposition, while the forwards and central midfielders overloaded the central areas.

The work rate was outstanding as Chelsea outrun United players by 8.5 km.

 

Final thoughts

Bar the Liverpool and Arsenal games, Conte’s blueprint has been taking shape and improving game by game.

He has taken the time to assess his personnel and settled on a formation that seems to be getting the best out of his current squad.

Just to name a few, Costa seems focused, Hazard looks liberated, Pedro appears comfortable playing in a role which is much closer to his previous one at Barcelona.

Finally, Thibaut Courtois needs to be highlighted.

The Belgian keeper has been under scrutiny since last season, but he has now kept three clean sheets in a row, and against Manchester United, made several crucial saves which denied United the ability to gain momentum.

 

Written by Charles Codo

Follow Charles on Twitter @soccerCrave

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