Last season, Antonio Conte famously switched tactics in the second half of the second game of back-to-back highly lackluster defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal, switching away from the 4-2-4 and 4-3-3 of the pre-season and early season and instituting his now famous 3-4-3.
Last Monday, he tried something similar in the second half of the Watford game, switching back to a back-four as Chelsea pushed for an equalizer. Granted, this time his efforts were hindered by Chelsea also being down to 10 men. So while the change did result in an equalizer, it also resulted in Chelsea giving up three quick goals in the final ten minutes to lose rather stunningly, 4-1.
Speaking after the game, Conte referred to acknowledging mistakes and taking responsibility, but it’s perhaps most telling that he was referring to the players being confused and not reacting well to either the equalizer, or the Watford goals. How much that has to do with tactics, or fatigue, or the man-down situation, or any other factor is up for debate, but perhaps it will prompt Conte to not want to introduce any new tactical setups or complexities.
“In the second half we showed good determination but confusion. You have to manage the situation, to understand it. But in 10 minutes we conceded three goals. In this case it is right everyone to take the responsibility — me, the players.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Goal
So, if we’re back to the 3-4-3, and assuming that Giroud and Christensen can both start, the rest of the pieces should fall into place nicely. Does Conte really have any realistic option other than to trust the players who have gotten him this far? Probably not.
Courtois | Cahill, Christensen, Azpilicueta | Alonso, Kante, Fàbregas, Moses | Hazard, Giroud, Willian
The WAGNH community’s preferred lineup differs only in the choice of captain, with Rüdiger starting in place of Cahill. This certainly would not be a surprising choice from Conte either.
Courtois (87%) | Rüdiger (74%), Christensen (87%), Azpilicueta (98%) | Alonso (77%), Kanté (98%), Fàbregas (69%), Moses (65%) | Hazard (99%), Giroud (95%), Willian (73%)