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Wing-backing it

The talk of three-man defences has Chelsea TV in nostalgic mood…

The head coach explained to the media prior to the game he is not dogmatic about formations and altered them in the past when his squad profile warranted it. In an earlier press conference Conte said if Chelsea this season were to play a three-man defence then it would be as a 3-4-3 and not the 3-5-2 he used at Juventus and with Italy. Once again, the type of players available dictate that.

And then there was the second-half at Arsenal when the Blues did switch to three central defenders with the introduction of Marcos Alonso as a substitute. That at least stemmed the tide of goals conceded that day.

At Hull this Saturday afternoon, the need not concede was again a priority although few would be very happy with a 0-0 draw either. 

We need to find a way to be more compact and for this reason and together with the players we tried a different solution from the tactical aspect with three centre-backs.

Those were the words of Conte in one of his post-match explanations this weekend, and having enjoyed a full choice of wing-backs beforehand and a week to work on the plan, he paired Victor Moses with Alonso. Afterwards he declared himself happy with the steadying first-half display as well as the second 45 minutes when his side kicked on for victory while still keeping the Tigers at bay.

‘I enjoyed myself out there today,’ said Moses. ‘There is a lot to do but I want to help the team. I have to go up and down but I kind of enjoy it to be honest, getting in one-v-one situations.’

Cahill, who along with David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta anchored the defence, paid tribute to the way Moses played and how it helped the team's movement overall, and spoke further about the change in formation.

‘It is different doing it on the training pitch to doing it in game situations but we adapted okay. We got to grips with it and especially in the second half we coped well.’

‘We have been working hard on keeping a clean sheet and also just staying compact,' added Alonso, confirming his manager's aims, 'and I think we had control of the game at every moment.'

Any fears there might have been that the determination not to concede goals may turn a back-three into more of a back-five are surely eased by the match statistics. Alonso at wing-back had more shots at goal than any player on the pitch at Hull and the Spaniard also created the most chances, with Moses in the top five for that stat too.

Whether Conte continues with this shape of course remains to be seen, and it will quickly be pointed out that following on from defeating newly promoted Hull, the Blues after the international break face a significant test from champions Leicester and then Man United, but those games are at home and we now have our second clean sheet of the season.

One of the most important benefits of Saturday afternoon’s win Conte pointed out is that it helps everyone ‘to trust the work’.

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