Two Changes That Conte Has To Make To Beat Manchester United Tonight
Chelsea and Manchester United meet on Sunday in a Premier League blockbuster at Stamford Bridge which could impact both sides’ title bids. Two equally passionate managers but different personalities, Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho will meet for the first time this season as bonfires will be lit and fireworks set off all over the U.K. to honour the centuries-old tradition of Guy Fawkes’ Night.
Humiliated in a 4-0 loss on his return to Chelsea last season, Mourinho was next called “Judas” by a section of Chelsea fans during March’s 1-0 FA Cup loss. He responded by reminding them of his achievements at Chelsea and won the reverse fixture 2-0 at Old Trafford.
On Sunday, Mourinho would relish the chance to add to Conte’s misery with a victory which would keep United close to Manchester City at the top of the table. Chelsea, having lost thrice in just 10 games this season, are coming off a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of AS Roma in the Champions League and Conte will expect a response from his side.
A defeat on Sunday would appear more damaging, in the short-term, for Conte, but a loss could also see Mourinho’s United fall 8 points behind league leaders Manchester City. However, it’s a game more important for the defending champions than United, and Conte would look to get all three points on board.
Here are two changes the Italian should make against United to pick up all 3 points at the Bridge.
Drop Antonio Rudiger and Slot Davide Zappacosta At Right Wing-back
Chelsea have conceded 11 goals in 6 games in October and their 3-0 humbling at Roma would have Conte worrying about his defence.
Rudiger, signed this summer from Roma, has given Chelsea’s back three the transfusion of pace and physicality this season, but was dreadful against his old club. The towering centre-back displayed school boy defending, letting the ball slip past him and allowed Stephan El Shaarawy to score the opener past Thibaut Courtois.
Conte may be tempted to make changes to the back three after the horror show at Roma, with Cesar Azpilicueta potentially replacing Rudiger and summer signing Davide Zappacosta slotting in at right wing-back.
Risk N’Golo Kante
Chelsea were hammered 3-0 by Roma in the Champions League on Wednesday, with summer recruit Tiemoue Bakayoko and Cesc Fabregas both badly overrun in the middle of the park.
The real dilemma is whether or not to play midfielder N’Golo Kante against Mourinho’s United, as he has just recovered from an injury. Kante, who scored in last season’s 4-0 victory at the Bridge, has missed the last six games for Chelsea after sustaining a hamstring injury during the previous international break.
The former Leicester man presented a boost to Conte when he turned up for training but would only start the game provided the medical staffs give the green signal.
In truth, Chelsea cannot afford to drop more points and Conte should risk Kante to tighten the midfield. Kante’s athleticism and intelligence are key to the balance of the Blues and Bakayako has to make way, given that he’s in a really disappointing form.