With defenders Kurt Zouma and Branislav Ivanovic still out with injuries and captain John Terry not 100% match fit. Last weekend against current Premier league champions Leicester City, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte alternated his side to a 3 at the back formation which worked magnificently. As Chelsea beat the champions at home, with an impressive 3-0 victory. Therefore, after such a convincing win questions have been asked all week on whether the italian would use similar tactics against Manchester United.
Sticking to the same formation, 3-4-3 Conte’s men took a 30 second lead over the red devils as Spaniard Pedro set the record for the fastest premier league goal of all time. Capitalising on a bad positioning by Blind and Smalling, Pedro flew past the centre halves before rounding keeper David De Gea to make it 1-0. The home side Chelsea doubled their lead from a routine set-piece, where England international Gary Cahill thumped in a volley from close range to make it 2-0. The home side Chelsea remained calm for the rest of the first half, easily clearing chances from Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard. However, in the closing minutes of the first half Brazilian defender David Luiz committed a high-footed challenge on United’s Fellaini and luckily was only given a yellow card from referee Martin Atkinson.
Manchester United attempted to outplay Chelsea’s dominant midfield by replacing Marouane Fellaini with former Blue Juan Mata. Although, this change was seen ineffective as Conte’s midfield masterclass continued throughout the second half. With a third goal coming from a great strike into the bottom right-hand corner of the net by Belgium Eden Hazard. Before N’golo Kante scored his first Chelsea goal in the 70th minute easily cutting past fellow frenchman Paul Pogba before darting inside the United penalty area and putting away a low shot into the bottom left corner, summing up a seriously poor performance from Jose Mourinho’s side.
After the match, Eden Hazard happily received the man of the match award due to his endless work rate and attacking contributions throughout the match until he was substituted in the 78th minute for Willian.
Subsequently, Antonio Conte appears to have found a formation which has helped accommodate the whole team throughout the two fixtures in which it has been utilised. Specifically giving David Luiz more security and time on the ball due to him having two other centre backs next to him, but also by deploying Marcus Alonso and Victor Moses as wing backs gives defensive cover when more protection is needed at the back. Eden Hazard and Pedro have also seriously benefitted from this formation change as they are given primarily attacking statuses within Conte’s team as the defense and midfield have become more compact, giving the attacking forwards less pressure to track back and help defend.
Overall, it is evident that Chelsea’s playing style has vastly improved since changing to one of Conte’s more favoured formations in which he used in Italy as Juventus Manager and the National teams manager. However, it is unsure whether he will keep this tactic when key squad members like John Terry and Kurt Zouma return from injury. Nonetheless, Antonio Conte will be hoping to replicate his team’s current form in his next fixture, midweek away at London rival West Ham in the league cup.