Antonio Conte admits 3-4-3 wasn't his first choice formation

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It is no secret that Chelsea's imperious form since losing 3-0 to Arsenal towards the end of September has coincided with manager Antonio Conte's big tactical shake-up.

A switch to three at the back, with N'Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic shielding in front, has given the Blues a solid defensive setup after appearing worryingly vulnerable at the start of the season.

It has also had a dramatic effect on the team's fortunes at the other end of the pitch.

Eden Hazard and Pedro have both thrived in less restrictive roles behind Diego Costa, who has also hit a hot streak of form, in a Chelsea side that have scored 16 times in their last five Premier League matches.

Conte has deservedly received plenty of plaudits for ensuring such a successful transition to a slightly unique formation but the Italian has revealed that the current 3-4-3 setup wasn't initially his preferred choice.

When asked why he didn't turn to the winning formula sooner, Conte said: "It was because in my mind I wanted to play with 4-2-4," as per ESPN.

"I wanted to start the season with this because you have wingers who are strong one vs. one and I like to play with two strikers very close together. But I changed it

"I must be honest, during the preseason when we started to prepare, there was 4-2-4 but also 3-4-3 because this squad could play both systems. I changed it because it gave us more balance defensively and offensively."

The hurtful loss at the Emirates was the final nail in the coffin for Conte's persistence with a back four and he explained the difference his tried and tested defence of three has made.

"I was worried [after the Arsenal loss] because we were conceding a lot of goals in every game and were also letting teams have a lot of chances to score," Conte added.

"For this reason, we changed. Normally when you lose, it's important to have good thoughts, to change to improve and to explain why you made this step.

"I think together with the players we are working very hard and we are finding a new way to change the situation."

The 3-4-3 formation was considered somewhat unfashionable in the modern era not too long ago but Conte, first with Juventus, a bit with Italy and now with Chelsea, is showing the value of setting up a team to maximise the strengths of key individuals.

He has stumbled upon the dream combination of getting his side looking like they can score with every attack and almost impossible to break down at the other end.

Chelsea have become the team no one wants to face right now.

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Premier League
Diego Costa
John Terry
Eden Hazard

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