"A shiny leather shoe cut through the air and water bottles scattered like nine-pins to all corners of the dressing room.”
According to the Daily Mail, that’s what happened at half-time at the Emirates Stadium in the Chelsea changing room as manager Antonio Conte gave his players the hairdryer treatment.
His side were 3-0 down and there were rumours that his job was already in danger.
The Italian boss needed to change something dramatically in these 15 minutes. The game was over, but he needed to make a move that would improve his side’s fortunes in the months to come or else he would soon be receiving his P45 from Roman Abramovich.
In that half-time break, Conte made a decision that would turn Chelsea’s season around. He switched to a 3-4-3 formation and everything immediately changed.
They drew the second-half 0-0, and have since beaten Hull City 2-0, Leicester City 3-0, Manchester United 4-0, Southampton 2-0 and Everton 5-0 in the Premier League.
While the results - and the league standings where they now sit second - are clear to see for everyone, Smartbets have dug a little deeper and analysed the statistics since the formation change.
As you can see in the graphics below, Chelsea have improved in a number of vital statistics since the introduction of the 3-4-3 formation.
Their shots, shots on target, dribbles and pass success have all improved in the previous five league matches which has seen them score 16 times and concede 0.
Interestingly, in terms of passing, Chelsea are now playing more longer balls. That has increased since the formation switch, with an eagerness to get the ball quickly to Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Pedro with the trio in devastating form.
Crosses are also down 17%, despite Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso effectively being used a wing-backs in this system. Instead, there has been a massive 115% increase of through balls as the players attempt to play the attacking trio through on goal.
You won’t be surprised to discover that Chelsea have also improved defensively since moving from a 4-1-4-1 to a 3-4-3. As mentioned, the Stamford Bridge club haven’t conceded a goal since the switch and the fact that they conceded less shots, made more tackles and more interceptions per game goes some way to suggest why.
If statistics and results weren’t enough to prove that Chelsea had turned the corner, Eden Hazard and Antonio Conte have today been named Player and Manager of the month respectively.
After a draw to Swansea and losses to Liverpool and Arsenal, it looked as though Chelsea could be suffering their second disappointing campaign on the bounce. However, it seems the 3-4-3 tactic has transformed fortunes and has seen them emerge as real title contenders.
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