Prior to the pre-season games starting, a lot of people – both Chelsea fans and critics – speculated a lot on the formation that Conte would potentially adopt. Based on the games we’ve seen so far, Conte appears to prefer a variation of the 4-4-2 formation.
In typical Conte style, however, he has added an interesting twist to it. So far in the pre-season games, the second striker dropped into the midfield area, and the wingers levelled up with the two central midfielders, thereby creating a five men midfield.
Granted that it is still just the initial stage, and Conte will obviously improvise on his squad depending upon the players available, but at the moment, indications are this is the way the Blues will line up against West Ham on August 15th.
Analyse the Chelsea pre-season games further and there is this palpable lack of creativity. Where they have been impressive, however, is in their defensive capabilities. When it comes to the attack, they have only relied on set pieces, or those rare moments of individual brilliance to get on the scoring sheet.
Coming to the topic of Cesc Fabregas, he was stunning in the game against Liverpool both defensively and going forward until he managed to get himself sent off for a pathetic challenge on Ragnar Klavan. Until that point, he seemed to be the only player attempting and looking likely to create goal scoring chances.
That red card against Liverpool didn’t help last week, but Fabregas doesn’t look like he’s really fitting into the squad, ahead of the new season.
Playing next to Nemanja Matic in front of the back four, he often got too caught up in possession and was easily passed by the AC Milan players. Fabregas needs to pull his socks up pronto, because with N’Golo Kante sure to start in Antonio Conte’s team on a regular basis, it is hard to see where Fabregas fits in. His lack of defensive strength will be a concern as the role requires far more running and pressing than in previous seasons to cover for the wide-men getting forward in a 4-2-4.
Fitness is another major concern for Fabregas, and Chelsea have also been doing double training sessions. There’s also the possibility that Conte might prefer Nemanja Matic to be Cesc’s playing partner, particularly against stronger opposition.
If the Spaniard wants to stay at the club in the long-term, then his best hope could be the 4-1-4-1 system that Conte employed in the game against AC Milan.
It is no surprise as to why Chelsea’s £32m summer signing – and Fabregas’ competition at this point – N’Golo Kante, got the loudest cheer of the night when he came on in the 50th minute and instantly got back to doing what he does best. Kante put in a strict patrol amongst the back four and covered so many areas of the pitch.
Chelsea players already looked far more comfortable with Kante on the field and he was linking up with the defenders and midfielders with neat passes.
It is early, but so far the France international is justifying the tag as one of the signings of the summer, and Fabregas really needs to step up his game if he wants to be a part of Chelsea in the long run.
As much as Conte plays Terry in the defense we will need 2 stop midfielders among Kante, Matic, Mikel, or Chabolah. Neither Fabregas or Oscar have those characteristics. So it is Conte’s hands. Stick with Terry and get the boot playing Terrry and Fabregas together. Or Forget about Fabregas