With Manchester City showing no signs of slowing down, all Chelsea can do is keep winning their own games. And this is exactly what they did, beating Swansea by one goal to nil. As always, Chelsea created the bulk of the chances but were thwarted by the Swansea ‘keeper or let down by their own finishing. Here are the talking points from a standard home victory.
#1 Rotation Is Real
In his press conference before the game, Conte stressed on the need to rotate players and he stayed true to his word with his team selection. Out went Azpilicueta, Bakayoko and Hazard, and their spots were taken by Rudiger in defence and the duo of Willian and Pedro in a 3-4-3 formation. Willian was, once again, buzzing all over the pitch, taking on opponents and keeping the attacks going. His form has noticeably improved over the past couple of weeks, making him more dangerous than he has ever been this season.
#2 Rudiger Reaps Reward
Antonio Rudiger has had to stay content with limited outings, but he has done reasonably well every time he has played. He had a solid game against Swansea, wherein he was able to play accurate passes from deep, run with the ball into attacking areas and keep things tight at the back. An excellent reaction goal capped off a good day at the office for the German. If he continues to be a dependable option, not too many people will miss David Luiz.
#3 Antonio Ejected
The referee made several curious decisions during the game but he saved the worst for Conte on the touchline. After Conte engaged in a heated argument with the fourth official, the referee found it serious enough to warrant a sending off. The Italian trudged towards the stands and sat just a couple of rows behind the dugout, but after the referee gave him a death stare, the Chelsea manager watched the game from his office. They’ll need to replace most of the furniture in there tomorrow.
#4 Fluid Formation
Chelsea started out with last season’s 3-4-3 formation, with Pedro and Willian on the wings and Morata through the middle. As the game neared its end, both wingers came off. Drinkwater came on and slotted into the midfield, while Hazard occupied the space behind Morata. With two substitutions, Chelsea were able to add numbers in midfield while preserving their threat up front. With the team now comfortable playing both formations, expect more tinkering based on the opposition’s strength.
#5 Wingback Wars
Davide Zappacosta has been an able deputy in Moses’ absence, but now that last season’s surprise package has returned, it will be interesting to see if Zappacosta can retain his spot. Conte will surely ease Moses in by giving him a few substitute appearances, and perhaps both players can get enough playing time during the course of a long season. Zappacosta was at his marauding best against the Swans, operating as a shuttle between both boxes.
Newcastle United are the next visitors to The Bridge, led by former interim manager, Rafa Benitez. Another routine victory and three points in the bag, please!