Oscar has credited new Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte with giving his players the mentality to reclaim the Premier League title, and says the Italian has restored him to his favourite position on the pitch.
Chelsea lie second in the table after taking maximum points from Conte’s first three Premier League matches against West Ham, Watford and Burnley, and Oscar has started ahead of Cesc Fabregas each time in a new-look three-man midfield alongside summer signing N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic.
This change is part of Conte’s bigger shift from the 4-2-3-1 formation favoured by Chelsea in recent seasons to a dynamic 4-3-3 system, but Oscar believes his new manager’s psychological transformation of the squad has been just as crucial to their fast start.
“The coach has changed the formation, we are playing a different system to last season,” the Brazilian told the Evening Standard. “His training method is different to what we had last season and he’s changed both the players’ mentality and the team’s mentality. I think we have improved since he’s come here.
“I think you can see that last season we were lacking a bit of resilience. We had that spirit in some games, but we weren’t consistent. It’s good to have that spirit back and we are looking to improve on that front. If we keep up this team spirit, we will be a threat in the Premier League.”
Oscar was largely deployed as a No. 10 during Jose Mourinho’s second spell at Stamford Bridge, but says he is relishing the chance to have a greater impact at both ends of the pitch in the new role Conte has afforded him.
“In the last few seasons I have played as a no. 10 or as a winger,” Oscar added. “Now I’m going back to my original position of No. 8, attacking and defending from box to box, which is my original role and the one I like the most.
“It’s been a very successful time for me here at Chelsea. I won a lot in the last few seasons — the Premier League, League Cup and the Europa League. Only last season wasn’t great, not only individually, but as a team. Hopefully this season we will win trophies and get back to a winning mentality.
“The objective is not only to finish in the top four, but to fight for the league, FA Cup and League Cup because we have to win trophies.”