Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has a huge task on his hands this season as he looks to take the club forward after their disappointing campaign last year.
The former Juventus and Italy coach has enjoyed great success in recent years, but he now faces the toughest test of his managerial career to date in new surroundings and in the most competitive league in Europe.
It’s been a slow summer in terms of transfers with N’Golo Kante and Michy Batshuayi the only notable additions thus far, but with a couple of weeks remaining ahead of the deadline, the Blues are still expected to act and further strengthen their squad.
While the system below paints a picture of a similar 4-2-3-1 formation that was used last year, it isn’t expected that it will be so rigid under Conte.
Having shown throughout his time with Juve and the Azzurri that he is flexible and open to adopting new systems and formations to suit his players, don’t be surprised to see it morph into more of a 4-2-4 or a 4-1-4-1 set-up instead.
Further, with the likes of Nemanja Matic, Juan Cuadrado and Michy Batshuayi on the bench, Conte has depth and will likely rotate and make changes with a handful of youngsters all knocking on the door for inclusion with the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Nathaniel Chalobah pushing for bigger roles.
That will be one of Chelsea’s biggest strengths this season, and it will come as no surprise if Conte outfoxes and frustrates his rivals with his astute tactical changes.
Italy were highly unfancied going into Euro 2016, but their influential boss guided them to the quarter-finals and they were unfortunate to miss out on a semi-final berth after losing on penalties to Germany.
Conte still needs to bolster his squad as there are areas of weakness that haven’t yet been addressed. Provided he does that, Chelsea can be considered title contenders as they still have the foundations of their success from two years ago.
A big part of the job will be getting these misfiring stars back on track, and if Euro 2016 and pre-season was anything to go by, the likes of Eden Hazard are ready to start afresh and get back to the top of their game.
Add Kante’s influence in midfield to the mix, and Chelsea will be stubborn and a tough unit to break down while also a dangerous threat in the final third with all of their creativity and attacking quality.
They may not be the favourites for the title, but it would come as no surprise if they were up there and contending come May with Conte leading the charge with his relentless pursuit of success.