Antonio Conte has experienced a mixed start to life at Chelsea, with a positive few weeks followed by poor displays against direct rivals and a dip in form.
All that leaves Chelsea in seventh place in the Premier League after seven games, three points adrift of Champions League qualification spots and five behind league leaders Manchester City.
They did bounce back prior to the international break with a win and clean sheet at Hull City, but there are still issues at Stamford Bridge that Conte must sort out between now and the end of the season.
It probably won’t come as a surprise to many as to what many of those issues revolve around as we look closer at what needs to change under Conte.
Settle on his best system to protect the defence
Scoring goals hasn’t particularly been a problem, with 12 scored in total while Diego Costa leads the Premier League scoring charts with six.
The biggest issue has been the defence, with nine goals conceded in seven games, the second-worst defensive record out of the top 10 teams in the top flight.
Without the benefits of having of his trusted Juventus lieutenants at his disposal in Gianluigi Buffon, Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini, Conte needs to build a defensive solidity in this Chelsea team and needs to figure out if he can confidently go with a three-man defence and which trio can play those roles perfectly.
Sign a defender in January
John Terry isn’t getting any younger as he turns 36 in December, and neither Gary Cahill nor Branislav Ivanovic are getting any better if you look at the mistakes that they make.
Despite the signings of David Luiz and Marcos Alonso in the summer, Chelsea still need to add an individual capable of being a reliable presence in the heart of their defence for years to come.
According to The Sun, they’ll need to splash out £50m on ideal target Alessio Romagnoli, and while AC Milan will undoubtedly be keen to keep hold of their star defender, a player of that age and quality needs to be on the agenda.
Drop Ivanovic from starting line-up
The aforementioned Ivanovic needs to take a place on the bench. Despite his loyalty and years of high-quality performances, he is now a liability for the most part.
Left out against Hull, Chelsea kept a clean sheet and won the game. It’s a small sample size but the Serbian veteran needs to be replaced in the team if you look at the bigger picture and where Chelsea want to go moving forward.
Freshen things up with youth players
Nathaniel Chalobah has just a solitary minute to his name of Premier League action so far this season, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek has been restricted to the EFL Cup.
Chelsea have a great youth system in place, but they need to start using it and not just looking to loan every player out at any opportunity.
These two youngsters should be used more often, as it will also give Chelsea supporters more to get behind with younger players being given an opportunity to break away from the usual individuals who may or may not prove to be consistent performers.
Play Batshuayi more
The Belgian international has played just 52 minutes of Premier League football since his summer arrival from Marseille, but he’s still managed a goal and an assist in that time.
Combined that with his two goals against Bristol Rovers in the EFL Cup, it’s clear that he deserves a bigger role at Chelsea.
Granted, Costa’s form is making it difficult but ultimately Conte needs to involve him more and find a way of utilising him better with ESPN FC reporting that AC Milan could come knocking in January.