Chelsea have been transformed into one of the best teams in the Premier League by manager Antonio Conte. It is probably the worst possible time for opposition teams to meet the blues. Even in such a good run of form, it is extremely important to stay grounded and not get complacent. Conte will be reminding his players exactly the same when they take on Middlesbrough on Sunday.
Conte has just been named as the October manager of the month, and it is an accolade that he quite rightly deserves. The Italian has managed to completely transform Chelsea in the space of a month or so. Gone is the lacklustre attacking intent or the huge wait for clean sheets; the blues are playing Barcelona-esque football in the last month. On the face of it, Conte may have just changed the formation from a 4-3-2-1 to a 3-4-3, but any manager will admit that it is one of the toughest things to do in the middle of the season. Conte said:
“This formation, 3-4-3, was a good option. We started with a 4-2-4. This formation, 3-4-3, was in our plan during the pre-season, and it was a good option. In the squad I saw we had a lot of players who could adapt to this system.
“I think it is important for the coach to find the right fit for the team. In this case, I think this formation is very adaptable for the squad.”
There is expected to be no changes with regard to formation or personal for the visit to Middlesbrough. Conte has confirmed on this website that he has a fully fit squad after Diego Costa has made sufficient recovery from the injury that prevented him from taking part in the recent international games for Spain.
Dani Ayala and George Friend are the major doubts for Boro ahead of the match. Boro boss Aitor Karanka began his press conference in usual fashion by praising the inform Chelsea as one of the title favourites. The blues will have to get used to such praise if they maintain their current form, although there is little truth in it since the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal, and Manchester City should not be forgotten.
Diego Costa and Eden Hazard have been in spectacular form, and they will once again be the key players. An equal shout out also has to go towards Pedro, who has been looking much more like a former Barcelona player rather than like a Barcelona reject.