Chelsea have spent the vast majority of the past twelve months playing a 3-4-3 formation that not only proved to be of title-winning caliber, but has also started a three-man defenses revolution up and down the Premier League.
Lately however we’ve seen a bit of modification to the standard, with Conte reverting to the more Juve-style 3-5-2 at crucial times, such as against Atletico on Tuesday, which just so happened to be one of Chelsea’s best performances in recent memory. We also saw it against Arsenal, Leicester City, and, in a slightly more defensive version, against Spurs.
But was Wednesday’s impressive performance purely due to the change in formation, or was it due to the commitment and intensity of the players, which both coaches praised at their post-match press conferences. Banking on it being more of the latter than the former — Conte mentioned something along those lines last year after switching from the 4-3-3 to the 3-4-3 — I’d expect Chelsea to return to the 3-4-3 against Manchester City.
Not only will the game be at home (the 3-5-2 has been mostly used away), we can probably assume that the last thing City will do is sit back in a low compact block. So while an extra midfielder could be useful in picking a defense like that apart, an extra forward could even be more useful in taking advantage of the visitors’ high line and aggressive pressing — especially a direct runner like Pedro.
With Conte emphasizing recovery through motivation and sense of occasion in his pre-match press conference, we can probably expect just about the same players out there again on Saturday. Having to play the first-choice players back-to-back on a short rest isn’t ideal, but this should be one of the few occasion this season in which we have to do it. Hopefully they’ll b up for it.
Courtois | Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta | Alonso, Kante, Bakayoko, Moses | Hazard, Morata, Pedro
With David Luiz suspended still, Christensen slots into the center of the back line, while I’d prefer Rudiger over Cahill on the left for his aggression and quickness. Even with Aguero injured, City are likely to come at us with a bunch of speed and small feets of fury.
The WAGNH community’s preference has flipped to the 3-5-2 for the first time ever, with Wednesday lineup basically repeating. Moses beats out Zappacosta 53-47 on the right flank while Cahill only gets 36% of the vote.
Courtois (99%) | Rudiger (80%), Christensen (86%), Azpilicueta (99%) | Alonso (94%), Fabregas (57%), Bakayoko (93%), Kante (99%), Moses (53%) | Hazard (93%), Morata (96%)