Chelsea continued their excellent start to their Premier League campaign at the weekend by beating Middlesbrough to not only record another win but to bring up their sixth consecutive clean-sheet in the competition. The Blues have not conceded a goal now in the Premier League in 590 minutes since Mesut Ozil was the last man to beat Thibaut Courtois between the Chelsea goal in Arsenal’s 3-0 victory in the London derby at the Emirates Stadium back in September.
Conte arrived in the summer at Stamford Bridge after a two-year spell with the Italy national team. He came with a reputation of fielding sides which are very hard to break down and that is finally rubbing off on the Blues who top the table by one point ahead of Liverpool and Manchester City respectively.
The Chelsea boss has particularly had success with the system he has adopted with his new side. Chelsea have used a 3-4-3 formation this season with David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta bringing up his defensive line. In front of the back three, summer signing N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic have offered protection in midfield, while Diego Costa is arguably the most in form striker in the league with 10 goals to his name already in the campaign.
Wins over Manchester United, Southampton, Everton and defending Premier League champions Leicester in recent weeks has sent a message round to the rest of the clubs in the league that Chelsea are serious title contenders this season. They were more or less out of the running this time 12 months ago in a very poor attempt at trying to retain their trophy so it’s been an impressive turnaround.
However, although Chelsea have got themselves in a great position in the league going into the very busy Christmas schedule, Conte may come to regret not advancing into the quarter-final of the EFL Cup.
Chelsea fell in the 4th round of the competition to London rivals West Ham back in October. Goals from Cheikhou Kouyate and Edimilson Fernandes put the Hammers through to the last eight at the expense of the Blues.
Former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho was always keen to do well in the League Cup as it is the first opportunity to win silverware in the season. Success at Wembley in the competition takes the pressure of a club going into the final few months of their league campaign. The Portuguese boss has taken that approach to Manchester United where his side remain in the tournament and are 7/2 in the League Cup betting to lift the trophy in February.
With Chelsea not in Europe this season, you would expect the cup competitions to carry extra significance. Conte does not have the disadvantage of having to juggle his squad between midweek European trips and domestic games at the weekend. The Italian does still have the FA Cup though which you would expect him to take very seriously considering it is one of only trophies he can now win this season with the Blues.