Antonio Conte seems to be a manager who is fitting at Chelsea as perfectly as Roman Abramovich would’ve liked. The early season back 4 shape never looked comfortable and change to back 3 with 3-4-3 shape has made Chelsea unbeatable and now look a side that will require some beating.
Likes of Pedro and Hazard are benefiting hugely from this system with their free roles.
Below we’ll look at the description of 3-4-3 system and how it is helping the Blues to be more competent and assured on both parts of the game. The free roles for wide forward men and support from wing-backs in wide areas being an effective part of their game-plan.
We can see the general positioning of players in a 3-4-3 system. The centre-backs are split in a way to defend the play centrally and also cover up for the wing-backs if they’re caught high up the pitch. David Luiz is the central defender who does the sweeping job in mopping up and also taking one of the side positions to cover up.
In midfield, Kante and Matic are central midfielders who have the license to go forward and support the attack centrally but primarily their job is to either stop the central supply lines from opposition or cover the side areas when the wing-backs are caught higher up the pitch. The wing-backs Alonso and Moses have a difficult job of anticipating the game as to where a particular move end up with. Their primary job is to push the opposition fullback into their own half by making attacking runs from wide areas, stretching the defence in wide areas and putting good crosses in the box are some of their attack-minded jobs, defensively they need to match the runs of the opposition wide player, they need to make sure the sided centre-back doesn’t get caught out 1 v 1 with the winger.
The front three are having roles that they’d love to have week in week out, we’ll separately analyse with the help of tactics board as to how the front three function with the whole team :-
We can see the attacking positions of each Chelsea player, with Hazard and Pedro tucked in, the opposition fullbacks tend to mark them as a result wing-backs get a chance to run at the tracking back wide player. Costa has a fixed role to play centrally trying to engage the two centre-backs so that they do not turn their attention towards tucked in forward players.
Matic gives the support in attack centrally with Kante behind mainly there to stop any counter-attack centrally or look to recycle the move if the opposition clear the danger. Cahill and Azpilicueta are there to either cover up for wing-backs or join the midfield if the counter-attack is central. Luiz is the deepest player to stop and sweep play.
Hazard and Pedro are chief benefit-takers from this system, as we see in the image, there are no track back arrow for either of them, just goes to shows they’ve the license to roam in and around Costa and trouble the back-line anytime they get the ball. They get to wide areas and also tuck in more often than not to confuse the defenders and almost be unmarked. The wing-backs give them that license to roam around centrally and not really think about tracking back if they lose the ball higher up the pitch, this enables them to recover the ball in high areas without thinking too much about the lost ball cause. The winning of second ball is key whenever you’re attacking higher up and looking to keep the move alive.
So, all in all the defensive solidity along with midfield astuteness and attacking prowess from the players with this system has made this system a success for Chelsea. Conte must be given the due credit for this, he started with back 4 and never looked comfortable with it, obviously loss to Liverpool and Arsenal derailed the team, and change to back 3 was the sign that the Italian is now willing to impose his philosophy more than playing a system that suits his players.
It’s an inspired change and the way Chelsea are playing at the moment, no doubt this will encourage Conte to work more on this system and make this team a formidable one. For sure, they’re title contenders this season and more depth in the squad for this system can take them back to where they belonged not so long ago.