Chelsea got back to winning ways on Saturday, collecting a much needed three points away to Hull City after collecting just one from the previous nine possible. Goals from Willian and Diego Costa set the Blues on the way to sweet, sweet victory in a match that featured a new tactical look, though also, at least initially, many of the same problems that have plagued the squad during the recent slide.
"I'm pleased with the whole game because in England no game is easy. Today I knew it would be very tough because we faced a team with a great spirit. I'm pleased with the performance, we played with the right intensity and with good pressure. We played a good game and kept a clean sheet for the second time."
"After two defeats it's never easy but I'm pleased with the commitment and attitude, We are working very hard and we must know we have to improve a lot. If we want to improve there is only one way to work."
"In England the game is never over. In the second half I think we played a good game and created a lot of chances. We scored two goals and could have scored more. We were able to defend very high and that's important because the team was always compact and when we lost the ball we tried to win it back quickly. When the team work together it makes it easier. To finish today with a clean sheet is very important."
Above all, Conte seemed most pleased with the clean sheet. It required a tremendous early save from Courtois as Chelsea came to grips with the new system, but as the match wore on, the team looked more and more comfortable with the 541/343 look. Here are the average positions with the ball, as posted to /r/chelseafc.
Without the ball, Alonso and Moses dropped back into the defensive stratum while the two wing-forwards Hazard and Willian dropped back to help cover the flanks. Conte had previously talked about how if he did switch to a three-man system at Chelsea, it would be a 3-4-3. Today, we saw that come true and with good effect (with the caveat that it was just Hull City in the end).
"It can be a big change in the tactical aspect. More than the system, what's important is the principles, then you can change. This week we've worked a lot, we must find the right way to be more compact. A clean sheet is important for the confidence. We are working very hard and we must continue in this way."
"Chelsea is a great team and I try to choose the best team because I want to win, the club and fans want to win. We have different options, that's normal. Together we win, together we lose."
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC
Win together. Lose together. Work. Work. Work. Fight. Improve. Win. So say we all.