Antonio Conte's ongoing tactical work is key to success of Chelsea's 3-4-3 formation, insists Cesar Azpilicueta

SAM LONG
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Antonio Conte's ongoing tactical work is key to the success of Chelsea's 3-4-3 formation, according to Cesar Azpilicueta.

The Blues have been almost flawless since switching to the system in September 2016, having only lost one of their 22 subsequent games to take control of the Premier League title race.

Tottenham are the only top-flight team to get the better of Conte's three-man defensive set up, which has been breached on just 21 occasions with 10 games left of the season.

Chelsea could achieve a record Premier League points total if their form continues during the run-in and Azpilicueta has praised his manager for ingraining such a resolute defensive stability in the club's players.

"Antonio is very keen on working on the tactical order in every session, with the emphasis on being united on the pitch," Azpilicueta told the Guardian.

"Before changing system I don’t think he was completely satisfied.

"The team didn’t have the identity he wanted but since then we have put in an awful lot of work and it’s translated into results."

Conte's tactical nous has clearly contributed to Chelsea's success but so too has Azpilicueta's consistency.

The Spaniard is one of three players - the others being Gary Cahill and Thibaut Courtois - to have featured in all 28 of Chelsea's Premier League fixtures to date.

Azpilicueta has adapted to a new central role seamlessly and is convinced he and his defensive teammates complement eachother perfectly.

“If you analyse [Gary Cahill, David Luiz and me] as individuals we have different qualities that complement each other.

"That means we can help each other out on the pitch.

"Each of us does certain things with greater ease than the other two and that gives us confidence as a unit.

"We cover each other. We tend to play quite close together and we’re there for each other,” Azpilicueta added.

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