Could Antonio Conte be planning a tactical surprise? Depends on how much we want to read into his words from Friday’s press conference, I suppose.
“We are preparing different solutions to limit the strengths of our opponent but it’s important for us to play our idea of football, bring our philosophy, try to play, score, defend very well and play with high intensity.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea
Our “idea” of football extends well beyond just the formation, but at this point in the season, given the great success we’ve been having since switching to the 3-4-3, there’s very little reason to change from it.
So, assuming the 3-4-3 stays, the obvious “different solution” is simply playing Nemanja Matic instead of Cesc Fàbregas. Cesc has actually started two games on the bounce, with the League Cup away tie at Wolves and the home league game against Swansea. But away form home, at West Ham on a Monday night, the size, strength, and midfield steel of the Serbian Spiderbeast is what will be needed.
Since Conte was talking a fair bit about Andy Carroll specifically, there is perhaps a chance that the usual back three will be broken up and we’ll add a bit of aerial presence to the right side by either shifting over or switching out Azpilicueta, but Dave has played in every single match so far this season and I don’t see Conte changing that willingly. Azpilicueta may have had a couple issues against taller forwards in recent weeks, but he’s mostly acquitted himself quite well. Conte recently called him one of the best in this position. He stays.
Courtois | Cahill, David Luiz, Azpiliuceta | Alonso, Matić, Kanté, Moses | Hazard, Costa, Pedro
The community’s preferred lineup is even less adventurous, or more adventurous, depending on your perspective, and stick with Fàbregas over Matić.
Courtois (99%+) | Cahill (90%), David Luiz (98%), Azpiliuceta (97%) | Alonso (95%), Fàbregas (63%), Kanté (99%+), Moses (92%) | Hazard (94%), Costa (98%), Pedro (90%)