After suffering a painful loss to city rivals Arsenal in the derby last weekend, Antonio Conte is almost certain to revert back to his usual 3-man defence style with his current club Chelsea. Conte in the past has been highly successful in playing with that formation in clubs like Bari, Siena and Juventus.
Even during his spell with the Italian national team, Conte used his formation of a 3-man defence extensively, masterminding some tactical masterclasses in international competitions. At Chelsea, the Italian primarily used a 4-1-4-1 formation but with the defenders not being able to do their job at the back it became very hard to employ the smooth execution of the strategies which revolved heavily on building out from the back.
With the decision being taken by the manager to play 3 at the back, there is also another challenge he faces at Stamford Bridge now, which is to get his players fully familiar with the formation which is not common at all in England.
It has been tried out in the past on occasions by other coaches in the Premier League but never has been a 3-man defence been popular or common in the Premier League. A system which is a bit more difficult to master tactically needing players with specific skills and maturity to excel for the specified formation, Conte knows that he will need to find the right players to make his primary tactic work.
The player who has thus made it to the list of the manager as one capable of executing the role at the back with a three is Tottenham defender Ben Davies. Davies has been an excellent player who rose from the youth ranks of Swansea, making his way into the first team.
Under the tutelage of Michael Laudrup, Davies excelled in his role of a left-back, making a total of 85 appearances in all competitions and winning the Football League Cup of 2012/13 as well. His thoroughly consistent and matured displays earned him a move to Tottenham Hotspur in 2014 but the defender has played second fiddle to Danny Rose at White Hart Lane in his new club so far making only 56 appearances in the last two seasons as a result.
The idea of moving for Davies is somewhat perfect for Conte for despite being 2nd choice to Rose, Davies excelled for his National team Wales in the recently concluded Euro 2016 earning high praises for his displays in left side of a 3-man defence of Chris Coleman’s side which stunned some heavyweights to reach the semi-final of the competition. A player who is consistent, versatile and well versed in a system of a 3-man backline, Ben Davies is thus the ideal player for Antonio Conte to target in the winter transfer window.