Match of the Day pundit and former Chelsea manager Ruud Gullit has suggested that Antonio Conte could field a back three against Arsenal on Saturday.
After five games, Arsenal and Chelsea sit side-by-side in the Premier League table with an identical record of three wins, one draw and one loss. However, due to the Gunners’ superior goal difference they sit in fourth place — one spot above the Blues.
On Saturday, the two English giants will take each other on in what promises to be a mouth-watering top of the table clash. Ahead of the game, football analyst and former Chelsea boss Ruud Gullit has provided his thoughts on how Antonio Conte will approach the game from a tactical point of view. He believes that with David Luiz now among the Blues’ ranks and with John Terry fit, the Italian could return to his favoured three-at-the-back system.
“Up until now I think [Conte] has been playing the ‘Chelsea way’, rather than his own, since taking charge over the summer,” Gullit wrote in his column for the BBC.
“So far at Chelsea, he has always set up with four at the back and used a shape close to either the 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 that the Blues played under Jose Mourinho in his two spells as Blues boss.
“At the start of the season I don’t think he had the players to play a three-man defence, but signing David Luiz gave him that option, and he can do it now that John Terry is fit again.”
Given Conte’s appointment in the summer, Chelsea were expected to play with a three-man defence going into the new season. While coaching the Italian national side and Juventus prior to that, Conte has managed to bring the best out of his players by fielding three at the back.
But when he took charge at the Bridge, Gary Cahill and John Terry were the only fit central defenders in Chelsea’s first-team squad. All summer, the Conte was on the hunt for a third quality defender, but to no avail.
David Luiz was brought back to London on transfer deadline day and may have solved the puzzle for Antonio Conte. The Brazilian is a composed figure on the ball and also possesses exquisite dribbling abilities for a defender. Since the game against Arsenal may prove to be too big a game to experiment a new system, Conte may stick to playing four at the back.