Chelsea are reaping the benefits of Antonio Conte’s formation change during the 3-0 loss to Arsenal, former defender Michael Duberry says.
Chelsea’s head coach switched to a back three during September’s defeat to the Gunners and has retained a central defensive trio ever since, with Chelsea winning six straight games and keeping five clean sheets in the process.
“I have been really impressed with Chelsea over the last few games, and as a former defender myself, I love a clean sheet,” Duberry told Sky Sports.
“People questioned his formation change during the Arsenal game but he had a plan to get the team playing the way he wants.
“Now I think it’s a case of him getting in the right personnel to play the roles he wants and I think they’ll only get stronger and stronger.”
Chelsea stalwart John Terry has struggled to get back in the team after returning from an ankle injury, and Duberry, who made 98 appearances for the Blues, is not convinced Conte’s tactical switch suits Terry’s style of play.
“JT knows he is not guaranteed a place in the team at this stage of his career,” he said.
“Three at the back is not an ideal formation for him but if he does play in there it would have to be in the centre to allow a couple of defenders with pace to play either side of him.
“But first and foremost it’s about Chelsea. He knows that, he’s Mr Chelsea and he’ll work hard to get back in that team.”
Chelsea’s excellent run of recent results sees them occupy second position in the Premier League, a point off leaders Liverpool.
Just five points separate the top five teams but Duberry remains confident Chelsea can qualify for next season’s Champions League.
“In a league with so many good teams it’s hard to find consistency,” he said.
“Chelsea had a blip earlier on and after defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal it would have been easy to write them off.
“But they’ve recovered and they don’t have the distraction of European football. It’s Saturday-to-Saturday football, that should help them and I expect them to get into the Champions League next season.”