Saturday’s 4-0 win over West Bromwich Albion was not only the biggest margin of victory ever for Chelsea at the Hawthorns, it was Antonio Conte’s 50th Premier League game in charge, and it was the latest step in the continuing tactical evolution of the team.
4-0 is Chelsea’s biggest ever margin of victory win at the Hawthorns— Rick Glanvill (@RickGlanvill) November 18, 2017
The Blues began the season with the same tactical setup as most of last season, but as teams have figured out more and more how to play against it, a tactical evolution was needed. Not a revolution, just a small tweak or two. The solution seems to be the 3-5-2, which was unchanged today from the previous game.
“Four wins in a row is good for our confidence, we started the season with many problems but we are slowly starting to find the right solution. I’m very happy with the commitment of my players.
“We have to continue in this way and show this solidity and create many chances to score. It was another clean sheet for us and it’s important to find the right balance when you have the ball and when you are without it. Slowly we are changing something from last season.”
The team certainly looked solid enough today, keeping a clean sheet and finishing clinically at the other end. Excellent performances from Hazard, Morata, and Fàbregas led the way, but there wasn’t much fault to find in anyone’s game.
Passmaps & xGplot for WBA against Chelsea. #passmap #xGplot #autotweet pic.twitter.com/6WFWMsR8TD— 11tegen11 (@11tegen11) November 18, 2017
Afterwards, Conte spoke of the importance of this confidence-instilling victory, of starting this grueling stretch of games over the winter with a solid win.
“I think it was very important for us to start this period with a good win [...] I think the game became easy because we started very well, with great concentration and focus. We showed great solidity and there was a great link between our strikers.”
Hazard, whose partnership with Morata was indeed glorious today, was singled out for additional praise for battling through the many little (and big) kicks of West Brom.
“Eden played very well and I think he showed great patience despite some situations which were very strong. I was a player and I understand when you play against these type of players it’s very difficult to stop them and sometimes you try to find a different way.
“Now he has to continue in this way, he’s 100 per cent fit and he’s enjoying his football with us which is important.”
Next up will be Qarabag, with a place in the Champions League knockout stages on the line. Just another important game in a long line of important games, with no time to rest in-between.
“To win in this way is very important for our confidence, especially now we are going to play an important game on Wednesday. I think it will be the most important game of the season because we have the possibility, with a win, to go into the next round of the Champions League, so to start our path in this way was very positive.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC