Antonio Conte got off to a great start in the Premier League after a 2-1 win over West Ham on Monday night. It straight away sets the right mood, which was especially important following a disastrous 2015-16 campaign, for the new season. Conte may have just overseen his first victory as the Chelsea boss, but it has already given a sign of things to come. Chelsea have a very good record when it comes to season openers, but the win over West Ham was just not a customary victory. There were plenty of signs that the new era will be different and, potentially, more exciting.
Substitutions That Make a Difference
Conte has always preferred the 3-5-2 formation, which was so successful for him at Juventus. Playing with two forwards at the top is a sign of attacking intent – one that Jose Mourinho was not ready to give in his second spell at the club. Mourinho in his first spell was not afraid to make the changes even in the first half. His stance appeared to soften a lot in his second spell. Rarely did he bring on a second striker to make a difference when chasing the game.
Conte, though, was a breath of fresh air in this regard. Conte was brave enough to take off Eden Hazard and bring on Victor Moses. Summer signing Michy Batshuayi was also brought on, but as a second striker and not as a winger. The tactical decision ultimately led to the winner.
Mourinho seemed to have a blind obsession with the 4-5-1 formation in his second spell as the Chelsea boss. Conte adopted a 4-3-3 formation which often became a 4-2-4 system when on the offensive. The players reverted back to a 4-5-1 system when they did not have the ball. It is extremely difficult to bring such vast changes during every passage of the game, but Conte achieved it with perfection.
Shooting from a long distance might seem like a cowardly method, but luck favours the brave. Mourinho’s Chelsea – in his second spell – had the reluctance to shoot from outside the box. Players were more intent on passing the ball into the net. At Upton Park last season, Chelsea had 3 attempts from open play compared to West Ham’s nine. On Monday night, fans witnessed a reverse of this statistic. In fact, Chelsea’s winner came from a long-range effort.