With a change in formation, it became clear as to which players would feature more for Chelsea. There is now an emphasis on solid defensive organisation and at the same time, the attacking players are given free roles up front to combine and make things happen. Antonio Conte’s efforts haven’t gone to waste as Chelsea have now kept 5 clean sheets in as many league games and scored 16 goals in the same period. Such form has seen them turn into genuine title contenders again and Conte without a doubt must be praised for giving the Chelsea players the belief to perform on such levels again.
They might have won the title under Mourinho but never did they look so convincing. There is another quality that the Chelsea team have inherited since the arrival of Conte and that is their ability to be on the front foot from the first minute to the last of a game. Conte has used pretty much the same players in his system since the 3-0 loss to Arsenal. This solidarity and consistency in team selection has re-invigorated a Chelsea team that were found wanting way too many times last season.
New managers at clubs will always take some time to get their squad right and Conte too will need a couple of transfer windows at the least to fine-tune his squad and filter out the dead-wood that remains in his squad. Conte to his credit has done well so far and even given youth players the chance to shine. Victor Moses is one player whose performances have been praised and Conte deserves credit for bringing him back into the Chelsea main team fold.
Here are 3 players that should be loaned out/ sold in the January transfer window –
John Obi Mikel
The Nigerian, a defensive midfielder by trait, joined Chelsea in 2006 following a prolonged transfer saga that involved Manchester United and his former club, Lyn. Following his move to Stamford Bridge, Mikel became a regular starter and won the ‘Chelsea young player of the year’ award twice in succession in 2007 and 2008. He has won several trophies in his time at Chelsea which include 2 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, 2 League Cups, a Champions league title that was followed by a Europa League success. Clearly, his time at Chelsea has been a fruitful one and Mikel will be happy that he’s a recognized part of Chelsea’s successes. But his role with the team has changed over the years drastically. From being a guaranteed starter in his earlier days, he is now a player that has failed to get a look in this season. This is mainly due to Chelsea’s acquisition of N’golo Kante who has done remarkably well since moving from Leicester.
Now 29, Mikel should look to move on from Chelsea and start over again. For a player of his stature and talents, he has seen very little or no game time this season and that is appalling. Nathaniel Chalobah also seems to be ahead of him in the midfield pecking order and this should be seen as worrying signs for Mikel. There would be several clubs looking to sign Mikel and they should take a punt on him, as at 29, he has quite a few years ahead of him.