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    Can Chelsea be stopped?



    Last Saturday’s early kick off was hardly this year’s stand out fixture, but it did prove one thing. Chelsea are flying.They swept away Manchester City with ease, taking the three points at The Etihad with a 3-1 scoreline. No one would have predicted the return of Hazard and co after the way they performed last season, and, even after some questioned his credentials, Conte is proving himself to be a tactical master. He was criticised for moving to three at the back early on in the season, but it was the type of move from the Italian that brought about the needed change. Chelsea sit at the top of the league's clean sheet table with 7, one ahead of Spurs.

    The ninety minutes at the Etihad showed Conte’s desire for the counter attack. Playing three at the back should be a risk against a team that needs little encouragement to go forward, but the Chelsea back line shut up shop and absorbed the pressure, before putting their opponents to the sword. The blues completed 18 out of 20 dribbles – a whopping 80% success rate – and scored three goals with each and every assist coming from within their own half. They're showing a much greater resilience than last year. Sixty percent of the game against City was spent in their own half, an impressive statistic by itself when you look at the result.

    The defensive line led by the increasingly impressive David Luiz had a huge part to play. They made 32 clearances and a massive 25 blocks. Pair that with their 17 interceptions and you begin to get the picture. This was a masterclass in defend, absorb and counter. They've only conceded 11 goals in the league, bettered only by Spurs who've let in 10.

    Just how has Conte brought about this change? How has he transformed a team that only just scraped into the Champions League last year and looked down and defeated? Pace.

    Conte has switched the formation to push his wingbacks up the pitch so that they’re playing almost like defensive minded wide midfielders. The pace of Kante allows him to operate almost as two players, while Nemanja Matic sweeps up around him. This allows the front men to be free, to go out and run at their opponents and that’s where the blues are excelling. The pace of Willian and Pedro means defense can be turned to attack in a split second, and with Hazard playing in his free role at the top of the line, there’s always someone in support. When all of this comes together like it did on Saturday, Chelsea will not be stopped.

    It’s only just turned December, and the season’s not even half way through, but the blues look good value for the title. Undoubtedly,  there'll be twists and turns over the next six months, but, with the way they’re playing, and with only Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs consistently grinding out victories, it’s hard to see who’ll be above them come May.


    Chelsea host West Brom at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, as they hope to extend their lead at the top.

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    Item Reviewed: Can Chelsea be stopped? Rating: 5 Reviewed By: J Holt
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