Chelsea got snapped out of their 13-match winning streak by a confident and technically brilliant Tottenham Hotspur and opened a can of worms at the Stamford Bridge.
After a start to the season which saw them win 3 and draw 1 and lose 2 in their first 6, many pundits predicted that the Blues will have difficulty in breaking into the Top 4 this season with the Manchester clubs, Arsenal and a settled Liverpool looking like certainties for the top spots.
But Conte turned things around and how. After shifting to a 3-4-3 formation, things fell perfectly into shape and under Conte’s passionate yet endearing guidance, the players responded brilliantly and he turned them into a winning machine in no time.
While people were going gaga over their displays and their surge to the top there was a nagging thought that forced one to be sceptical of their success in the long-term. It is a fact that Chelsea have been extremely lucky regarding the absence of injuries and their players have been on their best behaviour, which is partly down to their manager’s approach. The concerned players have been at their best and the manner in which the likes of Kante, Alonso and the returning Luiz have performed has been exemplary.
Conte has been lucky in the fact that his 3 defenders Azpilicueta, Luiz and Cahill have been impeccable so far. They have been in good nick, have gelled well and have been injury-free thus far. But there is no guarantee that all of the above will stand through till the end of the season. With missing-man Zouma and retired man walking John Terry as their back-ups, a defender should be high on their shopping list.
And this is an area where Conte wants to improve and according to reports, he is interested in signing Middlesbrough central defender Ben Gibson and the club sees the player as a long-term replacement for club legend John Terry.
Ben Gibson, the Englishman, has been a mainstay for Middlesbrough this season. He has been preferred to Ayala and has admirably partnered loanee Calum Chambers till now. Although Boro aren’t in the most comfortable position in the league now, their defensive organisation and structure have understandably earned praise.
Gibson has adjusted well to the Premier League and the step up hasn’t been the most difficult. The 23-year-old has been in inspired form for Middlesbrough, in the heart of one of the league’s most consistent defence.
His position and his intelligence have helped him to adjust well in the hectic and the fast nature of the top flight. He has made 30 interceptions and cleared the ball 119 times and has made 20 blocks. These are impressive statistics in his first season in the top flight and given time and guidance by Conte, he can very well develop into a world-class player.