Today we take a look at the disgraced champions of 2014/15. Last season was an absolute travesty for Chelsea, so you can bet Conte will be keen to turn that form around in a big way. With no European distractions, rotation should be less of an issue for the Blues. Here’s their projected XI!
Antonio Conte is a manager who favours 2 strikers, so it has been no surprise to see them line up as such. It’s bringing a new dimension to Chelsea this season, and I love it! They are almost going to a 4-2-4 when in possession, before dropping back to a 4-4-2 when defending. It may jeopardize the likes of Oscar and Matic, but the 2 forwards should thrive. There looks to be no need to worry about them playing with 3 at the back, Conte is shaping up with a regulation defence so far. Here’s how I expect them to line-up:
Starting at the back, there are two questions to be asked. Will Ivanovic start, and does John Terry have any more left in him? I believe Terry will fill in for Zouma’s absence in the first month, however beyond that the French centre back should get the nod. Chelsea are looking closely at Napoli’s Koulibaly, if he was to come in and form a partnership with Zouma they could hold the fort for years! I’m avoiding Baba and Ivanovic as I’m not quite sure which one will start. Azpilicueta is the safest long term route into Chelsea’s defence, although 6.0 is a hefty price tag.
In midfield it’s clear why Conte opted to go after Kante. They are playing a system which he’s used to after occupying a central mid role in a 4-4-2 in Leicester’s title winning side. He didn’t just play there, he was probably the league’s best midfielder all season. Proven and just about ticks every box. Who partners him will be interesting, although Fabregas is surely the likely candidate. He will be the creative force, albeit it not in a number 10 role. 7.5 is value make no mistake about it, he’s high on my watchlist. If Chelsea improve his assist tally will rise, what we need to remember is now he’s only a midpricer!
Out wide it seems clear that Hazard and Willian will start, although Pedro could find himself situated on the left if things continue like they did against Real Madrid. What am I talking about? Hazard played in a second forward role next to Batshuayi. Boom. Conte said after the game that he has positional work to do, but it’s clear he would make an extremely dangerous strike partner for someone stronger such as Costa or Batshuayi. Monitor this one closely…
Recent rumours suggesting that Costa may leave have thrown some doubts about who Conte will opt for up front. Batshuayi looks an obvious candidate having been hand picked by Conte, however the second forward is less certain. Hazard could cause serious damage, but he is also comfortable on the left. Pedro has played there at times in pre-season, but I see that as unlikely. The other name to throw into the hat is Roben Loftus-Cheek. He has been played up top in every pre-season game so far. Seeing as he’s priced as a 5.5 midfielder, an injury to another forward or some hot form could see him become the bargain of the season.
So there’s plenty to like about Chelsea this season! I can see them charging back into the top 4, so investing in their attacking assets could be a wise move. Their defenders are a little pricey for my liking. Next up, Crystal Palace!