The 2018 football year have not been business as usual for Chelsea and Conte as they are yet to win a game in 4 matches and yet to score in their last 3 matches in all competitions. The Blues began the New Year with a game on the road at the emirates against an Arsenal side where the blues surrendered the lead in injury time to gift Arsenal a draw after strings of wasteful displays from Alvaro Morata.

The subsequent games have seen Chelsea wasteful, predictable and dominated. The recent game against Leicester city gives more credence of the club being a shadow of the team that won the league last season and this could cause the champions to slip to fourth place if Liverpool gets the better of City at Anfield. The club have lacked the desired penetration, tempo and clinical abilities to get result as proven from there last 2 games. This has been to tactical formation change.

This recent change from 3-4-2-1 formation to 3-5-1-1 formation have been identified as the primary cause of the recent decline in results. The 3-4-2-1 formation of last season afforded the attacking trio the liberty to roam forward, create chances and dominate matches with wing backs as backup and the defensive midfielders where tasked to Lock the tighten grip on the midfield. The 3-4-2-1 formation is usually used to play high tempo defensive and offensive tactics in games. Example of these includes Barcelona 6-1 win over PSG where Luiz Enrique deployed the formation.

The 3-5-1-1 formation is a slow tempo and Possession field formation in which responsibilities are given to the midfield clusters to both defend, attack and create chances. The formation is most deployed by teams with a lot of midfielders and in low tempo leagues where possession is key. The present 3-5-1-1 formation setup of Chelsea comprises of the deep lying playmaker, box to box midfielder, a holding midfielder and the Second striker offered a free role to operate within the half of the opponent with the wingback who do both defensive and offensive duties. These have afforded the side midfielders of Opponents less defensive duties and more offensive duties thereby reducing the offensive effect of the Chelsea players.

The last game against Leicester exposed the weakness of the formation as the Leicester team were able to match the Chelsea team on the pitch. There display stunned Conte as he was forced to change his formation before the hour mark. Chelsea improved slightly with the changes though it came a bit too late considering that Leicester have already settled in the game.

The Chelsea team will need to reverse to 3-4-2-1 from 3-5-1-1 to ensure penetration as well as to bring out the individual onus of the rusty attackers presently in the club. The arrival of Ross Barkley will afford Conte enough rotation option if he adopts the 3-4-2-1 as the Player has the Quality individually to create chances out of nothing as well as backup for Hazard. The formation will bring back the best in Pedro which we had a glimpse of last season. The formation will also increase the clinical and conversion ratio of the club as bulk load of the work will fall on the attackers and less on the midfielders. The Tempo and technicality of the formation will bring back the best of Willian who have been silent this season.

Finally it’s not over until it’s over. Conte will need to go back to the 3-4-2-1 if Chelsea are to get significant progress and possible laurels.