After a mid-table finish in the previous campaign, the Men in Blue from London will be aiming to finish in the top four next summer. ‘The Special One ‘ Jose Mourinho had helped them win the league the year before that, but his tactics went eerie as Chelsea nearly reached the bottom three several times in the first part of the season. The fans started questioning about Jose’s tactics and was ultimately sacked in December. Interim manager Guus Hiddink somehow managed to save their skin as Chelsea finished in the 10th position with 50 points. Antonio Conte declared as the manager, joined the team right after the Euros’ and added N’golo Kante and Michy Batshuayi in the squad. It seems that manager he already has some new plans to improve the quality of the midfield.
Playing 4 out of their 6 pre-season games they won two and lost two (one against Real Madrid). With just a month in the managerial post, Conte has come across some impressive young prospects which can be the additions to his squad. He took the opportunity to utilise the academy players in the pre-season to a great extent, and some of them, in particular, seems to claim a starting role for the campaign. However the Italian must sign at least one world class forward and a rock solid defender to stop those frequent defensive errors. These signings will almost ensure him a squad that can fight for the titles. Currently, the club are enthusiastic to sign Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly and they’ve also attempted to re-sign Everton’s talisman, Romelu Lukaku after Real Madrid rejected Chelsea’s final bid on Alvaro Morata.
The million dollar question now is, that what is going to be Chelsea’s line-up this season. Conte himself was a fan of the old 3-5-2 formation and has deployed it in his tenure at his former teams Juventus and Italy, being successful on both occasions. But will Chelsea go with the idea of three at the back? According to the premier league history, almost all the clubs tend to play four defenders, (however there are exceptions.) Conte has been tried a 4-2-4 system so far, which has had mixed reactions as they conceded 5 goals in the last four games. It’s a bit early to say but the Italian will most likely keep faith in his back four. With all of his potential additions, the first possible XI for the Blues next season, lining up in the 4-2-4 formation will be as follows:
Thibaut Courtois – (GK)
The Belgian international received much criticism last year due to his poor form and lack of clean sheets. With his great reflexes and anticipations, he can become the best goalkeeper in the world and is a real difference maker. but needs to find his best form soon.
Cesar Azpilicueta – (LB)
This Spaniard full back is now Chelsea’s one of the most dependable players. Equally useful either on the right or left. He must continue to deliver the quick overlaps and quality crosses to confirm Chelsea’s rock solid defence in either of the flanks.
Gary Cahill – (CB)
The main problem with Cahill is that his consistency when defending in deep regions needs to be improved, though he is Conte’s first choice to be in the centre back along with Terry until Zouma rehabilitates. The England man must make his stand and is a key player in Chelsea defence.
John Terry – (CB)
Often called as the Captain, Leader, Legend by his dear fans the 35-year-old is not in his prime anymore. But as Chelsea seems vulnerable back at the defence, his natural ability to organise and lead from the front proves to be pivotal most of the times.
Branislav Ivanovic – (RB)
Baba Rahman’s loan move might give the Serbian a chance to play as right back, but this 32-year old defender had made some silly errors which proved fatal. However one cannot forget his experience in big games and his deadly ability from set-pieces and in both the penalty areas.
Nemanja Matic – (CDM)
He was another player who experienced a terrible last season. Although tables can turn and his steady challenges with beautiful creative passing upfront could make him their key player this year. He and Kante can make a dangerous duo if Cesc Fabregas fails to make a mark in Conte’s strategies.
N’Golo Kante – (CDM)
Conte brought him from Leicester City in order to cover up the holes in the Blues’ midfield. An extraordinary workhorse Kante has stunning athleticism and stamina in the deep midfield region. His partnership with Danny Drinkwater made the foxes unbeatable to a certain extent of time. Conte can hope that he has a similar impact like his Leicester days
Willian – (RWF)
Willian’s killer set pieces and a well-maintained discipline with tactical intelligence made him an essential member of the squad previous season. Under the Italian, we might be able to see this Brazilian play in his top notch form as a Right Winger.
Eden Hazard – (LWF)
The Belgian superstar still undoubtedly Chelsea’s most important player. He had experienced a bad phase last season. Still, his ability to change a match by himself has proved his importance day after day. Conte will certainly hope that he comes back to his form and regains his confidence early enough.
Michy Batshuayi – (CF)
Signed for €40m from Ligue 1 side Olympique Marseilles, the Belgian international is yet to prove himself in the Premier League. His rapid pace and constant presence in the box is a major advantage for Chelsea. Now that Conte has opted to play two strikers, he will be asked to be Diego Costa’s companion in the attacking spearhead. There’re not many expectations from this young lad but if he somehow manages to score 20 goals in the season, he will have a great debut season.
Diego Costa – (CF)
The controversial and combative centre forward’s future at Stamford Bridge is at stake. However, his decent form when not injured can relieve them from many worries up front. With the addition of Michy Batshuayi by his side the duo can cause much trouble with the opposition defence.
Chelsea kick off their new season on Monday 15th August against West Ham United. A big game on their first matchday, all eyes will be on how well does Conte do in his Premier League managerial debut. The fans nonetheless will want to see their team starting the season on a high note. After the poor performance last season, all they want now is to rejoice to something. Good luck Antonio Conte!