One of the more fascinating aspects of Chelsea’s journey this season was Antonio Conte’s decision to scrap the months of tactical work from the pre-season and the early season and start anew after six league games. How did he know how to do this? Was the situation that desperate? There’s probably more than an element luck to it, though as the old saying goes, you make your own luck.
Conte’s bold decision to try something brand new could’ve been an absolute disaster. While he was familiar with a three-back system, only Marcos Alonso had any notable experience in such a setup among the players. It turned out to be anything but a disaster of course, though it’s worth noting that the first win with the 3-4-3 required two stellar long-range efforts in the second half (from Willian and Costa) to win over a relegation candidate. Fortunately, that Hull City match was followed by a two-week international break, during which most of the squad got a quick and important education. And the rest, as they say is history.
The lineup that day against Hull City read: Courtois | Cahill, David Luiz, Azpilicueta | Alonso, Matić, Kanté, Moses | Hazard, Costa, Willian. With Willian’s exception, whose season was greatly derailed by personal tragedy, that’s the lineup (plus Fàbregas off the bench) that got us to where we are today.
There’s no reason to think that the same lineup won’t get us the rest of the way, which now is only three points.
Courtois | Cahill, David Luiz, Azpilicueta | Alonso, Matić, Kanté, Moses | Hazard, Costa, Pedro
The community’s preference, as usual, tends more towards Cesc Fàbregas (especially in light of Kanté’s recent injury), but given West Brom’s physicality, Mr. Magic Hat is likely to only make an appearance as a substitute in this one.
Courtois (98%) | Cahill (91%), David Luiz (92%), Azpilicueta (97%) | Alonso (98%), Matić (71%), Fàbregas (83%), Moses (96%) | Hazard (98%), Costa (95%), Pedro (72%)