Chelsea have been having it rough under the new manager Antonio Conte. While the standings show they have a decent share of points, their performances haven’t been up to the mark. Diego Costa has probably been the most consistent of the lot with regular goals but the rest of the team have shown that they are nowhere near their best. So, as it stands, the 4-3-3 isn’t as effective with Matic pairing Kanté and Conte might use the three-man defence more frequently.
Where does the 3–man defence stand?
It is true that the 3-man defence hasn’t seen long term success in the Premier League with the likes of Van Gaal, Rodgers, Martinez all having failed, well, technically they all had a bit of success for the final result was a failure. The reasons for failure were pretty much due to the wrong players or wrong opponents. However, Antonio Conte is a sheer genius in the 3-man defence, taking into consideration his success with Juventus and in my opinion, he can truly set the trend in the premier league.
Will Matic have a role?
Using a 3-man defence requires some careful planning and the right players. If it’s a 3-5-2 Chelsea can do with one Ball winner and two centre midfielders. They have two centre backs with a certain Cahill fumbling quite consistently as off late it is rather risky. They did succeed against Hull City but a 3-5-2 requires three brilliant centre backs and in the squad, there seems to be only Luiz and Terry who can fit the bill.
A weird, unusual, yet highly possible proposition comes to mind by letting Matic be the third man. He has the tackling ability, the composure and the height; the passing is a welcome bonus. This would mean Costa and Batshuayi upfront supported by Oscar, Fabregas, Willian and Hazard in midfield. This is a deadly lineup of creativity, grit and tenacity and can, on a fair day, beat most teams.
Are Chelsea ready yet?
With all that being said, I think the Matic experiment, if conducted is more of a hit or miss. Furthermore, Chelsea do need transfers, especially wing-backs for that wide attacking role. A late track back from Hazard or a defence-splitting pass is all that’s needed for Chelsea to detonate. Signings would require players like Bonucci or Alves and it is the job of the manager to not rush into decisions before the requirements are satisfied. Moreover, a half ready team with a 3-man defence can shatter morale, question the manager’s knowledge and lead to a team without cohesion.
It is pretty obvious that the forthcoming changes could see Matic leave the club. There are several clubs in search for a top defensive midfielder, a certain Jose from the neighbourhood as well; it’s best for both club and player. Nonetheless, Conte must learn and realise that the 3-man defence is a formation to be used in situations that demand it, not a default start. The Premier League is brutal and a big challenge to a manager of his calibre. How will he manage this test? Time will tell.