Undue Conte caution culminates in third straight Chelsea stalemate

Alan O’Brien 

This was Chelsea’s third consecutive goalless draw in all competitions. And, given the damage wrought by Antonio Conte’s continuing 3-5-1-1 fixation, they were lucky to get it. Continue reading


Central midfield chasms result from Wenger’s latest bout of Conte copying

Alan O’Brien 

Back in August, Antonio Conte deviated from his title-winning 3-4-2-1 system for a big game just like this one. Tottenham Hotspur were frustrated, and bested, by a more conservative Chelsea 3-5-2. Its inception was designed to ensure greater defensive security against stronger sides. Yet, on Wednesday night, in another London derby, it achieved anything but. Continue reading

Premier League: Three tactical talking points from Matchday 16

Alan O’Brien 

1) Hard-running Hammers consign sluggish Slaven days to memory

If Slaven Bilic’s West Ham United had greeted the champions in this manner, claret (and blue) would surely have spilled. Continue reading

Premier League: Three tactical talking points from Matchday 13

Alan O’Brien 

1) Sorry Swans’ goalless run is no surprise

Pity poor Paul Clement. Try as he might, this well-traveled coach cannot salvage his employers’ disastrous transfer policy. And boy has he tried. Continue reading

Premier League: Two tactical talking points from Matchday 10

Alan O’Brien 

1) 5-3-2, the counter-attacking formation-du-jour

Ever the tactical trendsetter, Chelsea’s Antonio Conte has done it again. Last season’s switch to 3-4-2-1, that inspired a title-grabbing 13-game winning run, was shamelessly copycatted across the Premier Division; most notably by London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. Continue reading

Analysis: Conte change unclutters the centre for City

Alan O’Brien 

Surely even Pep Guardiola did not imagine the success Fabian Delph’s unusual instructions would engender. Designed, presumably, to copper-fasten Manchester City’s customary possession-dominance, Delph’s turn as an inside-left-back also tempted Antonio Conte into the tactical call that cost Chelsea this game. Continue reading