Who do YOU think will start in Antonio Conte's first Chelsea selection against West Ham?
As Antonio Conte prepares for his first Premier League encounter as Chelsea Manager against West...
As Antonio Conte prepares for his first Premier League encounter as Chelsea Manager against West Ham United on Monday Night Football, I am asking you reading this article; "Who do you think will start for Chelsea?"
We've sat through Euro 2016, We've seen pre-season come and go and now it's time to get down to business as we start our top four challenge this season. What better way to kick off our campaign than a London Derby on the first SkySports Monday Night Football of the season so make sure you check out the Bet Victor free bet promo code to get your bets on ahead of the game!
If reports are to be believed, Antonio Conte was to meet with the Owner and Chelsea Board to discuss the immediate futures of a number of players after taking a watching brief over the past month or so. With numerous reports doing the rounds and speculation rife, it will be interesting to see who Chelsea officially register with the Premier League for the start of the season.
The Current Squad.
Will we see a few of the youngsters given a chance to prove themselves as valuable members of the first team squad such as Ola Aina, Bertrand Traore, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Nathaniel Chalobah? Each played well in pre-season and I just wonder if the likes of Aina and Chalobah will now become integrated into the squad this season?
What about the returning loan players such as Juan Cuadrado and Victor Moses who look to be fighting it out with Eden Hazard, Willian and Pedro for just four places within the squad. Will Cuadrado who impressed with Juventus last season be given a chance by a man that has openly stated that he admires him? Or, will Victor Moses finally be given an opportunity to become a fully fledged member of our squad after impressing for the third pre-season in a row!?
We can all agree that our defensive midfield options have been bolstered by the fantastic signing of N'Golo Kante but who will he line up alongside? Will it be Nemanja Matic on a regular basis to form the protection in front of our back four in what could be a 4-2-4 formation? Or will Kante play as the one holding midfielder as part of a 4-1-4-1 formation? The future of Matic and Mikel has been up for discussion all summer but for now it looks as though both are staying here.
Further forward and you have to wonder what the future holds for Cesc Fabregas and Oscar this year? Will both play next to each other as part of that 4-1-4-1 formation in front of Kante? Or, will both have to miss out and settle for a place on the bench if we play the two defensive midfielders together? One thing is clear, despite the ongoing speculation over his Chelsea future, Oscar has done exactly what has been asked of him in pre-season and deserves a chance under Conte in my opinion.
Will Antonio Conte stick with the ageing/slowing Bransilav Ivanovic at right back or will he switch Cesar Azpilicueta back over there to accommodate Ola Aina? Kurt Zouma is on his way back to fitness so for the time being it looks like John Terry and Gary Cahill will once again form the all important defensive partnership we are looking to solidify and build on. Matt Miazga looks like going out on Loan.
Thibault Courtois has got the Goalkeepers jersey nailed down for the upcoming season and all of us hope that he has a better season than last. It started badly against Swansea and went downhill from there so we are looking for him to make up it now. We are yet to see if Azmir Begovic will remain his understudy.
Up top it looks for now like it will be Diego Costa and Michy Batshuayi either starting next to each other or Costa leading the line with the new signing his understudy for the beginning of the season. Whether or not Costa will remain here after the transfer deadline is yet to be seen.
So to the game against West Ham.
There has been one question that everyone has asked themselves or their mates ahead of Conte taking over the reigns, What formation is he going to use? If we are honest, even now after watching the whole of pre-season, I do not think anyone can state with any confidence that they know what he is going to do.
It's West Ham, it's a London Derby and it's immediate pressure on the Manager and the Players to perform and NOT to lose the game!
Will Antonio Conte play with the two holding midfielders to protect the back four against the obvious threat that West Ham now have in attacking areas? Or, will he decide to play a solid but attacking line up with just the one defensive midfielder anchoring things?
Do we look at Cesc Fabregas being named on the bench with Oscar starting as anything against Werder Bremen as anything to go by? These are questions that will be answered at 7pm next Monday night as he names his first ever Premier League side.
How would you line up? Conservative or attacking? This is how I would line up in a 4-1-4-1 formation:
Courtois, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Terry (C), Aina, Kante, Matic, Fabregas, Willian, Costa and Hazard.
I have decided to go with Kante in the holding midfield position releasing Matic and Fabregas to dominate the midfield. We've seen how Matic can impose himself on these games and knowing he has Kante behind him will give him more freedom. Fabregas in to play the Andrea Pirlo role under Conte to just ping his passes about.
It's a massive game and one we cannot afford to lose. We need to hit the ground running and under the lights at the Bridge could be the perfect start.
What do you think?