Antonio Conte talked a bit about “identity” in his pre-match press conference, and while that’s a notion that should and does extend beyond just the formation on the lineup sheets, the now classic 3-4-3 and the usual suspects occupying its positions have become almost as ingrained as Mourinho’s 4-2-3-1 starting lineup did two seasons ago.
Considering that Leicester City also rode essentially an unchanged lineup to the league title last season, it would appear that being able to stick with a winning lineup is key to winning things. Sure, that’s pretty obvious, but sometimes the obvious does need pointing out.
There used to be debate over who should start at right inside forward, but Pedro’s in such ridiculous form that he’s nigh undroppable at the moment. In fact, it might be Eden Hazard who’s the “least good” out of the trio of options, but I can’t quite imagine Conte being bold enough to drop Hazard to the bench and start with Pedro and Willian flanking Diego Costa.
There also used to be debate over who should start next to Kanté in midfield, but Matić seems to have made that position his own once again, with Fàbregas relegated to impact-substitute and Cup duty — he does both of those really well, which makes this an ideal arrangement.
With no injuries or suspensions elsewhere, the lineup falls becomes the standard 3-4-3.
Courtois | Cahill, David Luiz, Azpiliuceta | Alonso, Matić, Kanté, Moses | Hazard, Costa, Pedro
The community’s preferred lineup wrestles with the same two questions as above, but arrive at the same answers.
Courtois (99%) | Cahill (89%), David Luiz (99%), Azpiliuceta (97%) | Alonso (92%), Matić (77%), Kanté (99%), Moses (95%) | Hazard (99%), Costa (99%), Pedro (76%)