Conte: We now have greater balance

LONDON • Chelsea's players have fully bought into the switch in formation to a three-man defence this season, manager Antonio Conte said on Friday.

Under the 3-4-3 formation that Conte has employed since taking over in the summer, the Blues have secured three straight English Premier League victories, including wins against Manchester United and champions Leicester City, without conceding a goal.

Chelsea travel to Southampton today with Conte believing that his men are adapting well to the change from a 4-4-2 formation.

"I think it is not a win or a defeat that can change my idea or the players' confidence," he said. "I think it is the right way for the players because it is a good fit for the team, this system. We have found a good balance and also we have a good offensive situation because we scored in every game."

The system appears to have provided more attacking freedom to playmaker Eden Hazard, who has scored four goals in the league this term, having struggled for much of last season.

Southampton are on a five-game unbeaten run in the league and Conte knows the trip to St Mary's will be a good examination of his side.

"We are playing away against a team in good shape," he said. "It's a big test for our ambition."

He added that defender Branislav Ivanovic has recovered from injury and is available for selection, but captain John Terry may be sent back to the bench after starting in their 2-1 midweek League Cup defeat by West Ham.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SOUTHAMPTON V CHELSEA

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 30, 2016, with the headline 'Conte: We now have greater balance'. Print Edition | Subscribe