Chelsea are absolutely flying and the view from the top of the Premier League is proving quite the sight for Antonio Conte.
The Italian’s switch to a 3-4-3 system has seen the Blues embark on an unparalleled winning streak. The west London side have risen from the outskirts of the top four to undoubted title contenders in a matter of weeks.
However, one man who hasn’t been convinced is Rio Ferdinand. In fact, the former Manchester United man believes two players in particular simply don’t suit Conte’s system and may prove areas of weakness.
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Given Chelsea’s immaculate form, it takes some comprehending that a pundit would prove so skeptical. Nevertheless, Ferdinand has taken a stand.
According to the Metro, the 38-year-old believes Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta may be undermining the recently deployed 3-4-3 approach.
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The ex-United defender explained: “They’re not good enough. Cahill and Azpilicueta were playing out from the back in deep areas [but] when you put them under pressure they can’t find people. Their best attributes are not passing out from the back.
“You saw it in the first half when Spurs applied pressure from the front they haven’t got enough to get out. Every time they tried to in the first half they lost the ball.”
Therefore, despite the Blues emerging 2-1 victors over a previously unbeaten Tottenham side, Ferdinand thinks change is needed.
Besides, Chelsea were uncharacteristically poor in a first half that looked destined to see them enter the break one goal down. Only via a moment of magic from Pedro did the players avoid an earful from Conte.
Even so, Ferdinand’s claims remain bafflingly pessimistic. Azpilcueta and Cahill may have been in questionable form against Spurs, yet the pair were rocks in preceding fixtures.
Chelsea have won their last seven league matches and the Blues stand above even Liverpool and Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
What stands out the most though, is the fact that Chelsea kept a clean sheet in six of those games. Moreover, all six of those clashes saw Cahill and Azpilicueta start in the 3-4-3 formation.
Consequently, the pair have a record of conceding once every 630 minutes playing together in Conte’s system. Still think they don’t fit the mold, Rio?
That being said, it is true that Chelsea’s back four need to look at themselves over a hit and miss performance against Spurs. After all, it would be unwise for them to wait for the wheels to come off before seeking improvement.
Nevertheless, with such a humbling clean sheet record, Ferdinand should probably question his criticism of the Blues’ defence. Besides, his old team have far greater issues to attend to.
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