Avram Grant was the last manager to have been a permanent replacement for Jose Mourinho. Technically, Antonio Conte is the replacement for Mourinho in his second spell since Guus Hiddink was only at the club on an interim basis. The popularity enjoyed by Grant was universally known, and the reception Conte would get was going to be mixed. The Italian has had a huge success with Juventus in the domestic competitions, but not much when it comes to Champions League. He had also never managed outside Italian football. Yet, Conte has taken the Premier League by storm. The biggest talking point is the way he has transformed Chelsea into a totally different outfit in the space of a few months.
It is often said that managers require at least two transfer windows to stamp their authority on the team. Conte literally took just 15 minutes to change the blues; since the half-time switch to a 3-4-3 formation during the 3-0 loss against Arsenal, Chelsea have been quite rampant.
Compared with the start of the season, Smartbets are seeing Chelsea make more shots on target and performing more dribbles than ever before. The presence in the penalty box has also gone up quite significantly and it may have to do with Eden Hazard and Pedro playing much closer towards Diego Costa.
It is a common phenomenon in English football to see a lot of cross was delivered into the box. Apart from Costa and Nemanja Matic, Chelsea do not have great headers of the ball in attacking areas of the pitch. It has seen the blues go more with through balls and reduce the number of crosses in the last six games.
The team has also been making much more short passes than they did under the regime of Mourinho.
One of the major reasons for the switch to a 3-4-3 formation was the lack of defensive solidarity. Conte’s judgement has proved exactly right in this regard, as Chelsea have not conceded a single goal since the switch to this formation. There has been a huge jump in terms of interceptions and it may have to do with playing three defenders at the back; Gary Cahill and Caesar Azpilicueta are comfortable enough to step out wide and prevent any balls into the channels.
Admittedly, a sample of six matches is a very short period of time to judge a manager that Conte has been showing all the positive signs to make Chelsea stronger than ever before.