What a turnaround it has been for Chelsea from last season. Exactly one year ago Chelsea fans’ beloved manager Jose Mourinho was sacked after a loss against Leicester City, that left them languishing at 16th spot in the table. And now the Blues sit at top spot, head and shoulders above others both in form and in the points table.
The transition from being one of the worst title defenders, to forerunners in the title race in just 12 months has been nothing short of amazing. Here is a look at how each component of the Chelsea machinery compares to the Mourinho’s Chelsea of last season.
Starting with the first and most important component, defensive stability, which used to be the core of Mourinho’s success and also Conte, or basically any Italian manager’s first priority.
Well, firstly speaking of the number of goals conceded, Chelsea under Antonio Conte has conceded 11 goals in 17 matches this season, with only 2 in the last 11 matches. Under Mourinho, Chelsea had played 16 matches before being sacked, and had conceded as many as 26 goals.
Even, clean sheets under Jose were only 4 in 16 matches, while it has been 11 for Conte’s Chelsea in 17 games. Fair to say, defensive stability has been Conte’s strong point this season. The 3 defender system used by the Italian has proved a huge hit, as opposed to the more conventional 4 defenders used by the Portuguese last season. The addition of Luiz has definitely been a positive, but the way Cahill has seen his form improve after initial blips is fantastic.
The midfield fielded by Mourinho last season was a whole lot different from what Antonio has been using this season. Mourinho’s 4-2-3-1 had Matic and Fabregas with Willian, Hazard and Oscar ahead of them. But with almost all of these players heavily out of form, Chelsea looked hapless. Antonio Conte, after arriving, stuck with the same formation initially, but after a 3-0 battering at the Emirates, decided he had seen enough.
With Matic, and new signing Kante, supported by another new recruit Alonso and the revived Moses on either flank, Chelsea seem almost unassailable in midfield. Fabregas has been used sparingly this season, but the signing of Kante while switching to the wing back system by the Italian has been an absolute master stroke.
Kante has already made more than 43 interceptions, more than any other player in the league, while the team covers an average total of 112.4 km per game, which is more than even the title winning season of 2014-15.
The attack under Antonio Conte has been something else, and a lot of it has to do with the improvement in form of Hazard, Costa and even Pedro, who looked at sea last season, although he was a Mourinho signing. Costa has 13 goals and 5 assists this season in 17 matches, while he had only 3 goals and 1 assist under Mourinho.
Hazard had no goals in the league at this stage last year, while he has 8 this season, double of what he managed all season last campaign.
Chelsea in fact, have a total of 35 goals this season up until now, as opposed to only 18 last season, which shows why Mourinho’s Chelsea had only 15 points from 16 games, while now we have 43 from 17. No wonder, Chelsea spanked Mourinho’s United 4-0 at the Bridge this season, which shows the gulf in the managers’ abilities for the time being.
Of course things can change any moment, and no one can deny that Jose Mourinho is and will be a legendary manager for Chelsea, but the truth is, Antonio Conte inherited a very troubled Chelsea side and has absolutely dominated the league with his own set of ideas. That is the Don for you.