Antonio Conte continued with his new 3-4-3 system for Chelsea’s clash with Leicester City, and the formation played a key part in picking apart the Premier League champions.
Despite John Terry’s availability, Conte stuck with his back three of David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill, while in midfield, Nemanja Matic acted as the anchor, with Eden Hazard and the superb N’Golo Kante operating centrally.
Leicester paired Ahmed Musa in attack with Jamie Vardy, but the lightning quick duo barely got a kick as Chelsea routinely mopped up any threat and used their defensive shape to build their attacks.
Out wide, Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso were Chelsea’s wing-backs and their strategy of remaining close to the touchline kept Leicester’s defence stretched and opened up gaps for Hazard, Diego Costa and Kante to exploit.
Azpilicueta and Cahill were also given licence to move into Leicester’s half, which pinned the Premier League champions back even further.
N’GOLO KANTE VS LEICESTER
MINS PLAYED: 90
KEY PASSES: 2
PASS SUCCESS: 87%
The system also allowed Kante to become the hub in Chelsea midfield and with 100 touches in total, he had the ball more than any other player on the pitch.
And the France international thrived having gained more freedom as he created a wonderful assist for Hazard’s first-half chance, while his defensive qualities were not hindered.
Hazard also impressed in a central role. The Belgian suggested earlier this week that he prefers a No.10 role and his neat interchanges with Costa suggest that he will continue to flourish in his new position.
Vardy was often left isolated and Chelsea were comfortably able to play the ball around the England striker using Luiz as the deepest reference point in defence.
‘In the week we tried a lot to change system to one that, for me, that would give us more compactness,’ said Conte after the win.
‘In these two games we conceded no goals and we haven’t lost our offensive situations.’