The Italian switched to a 3-4-3 formation after defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal, and it worked wonders as they went onto win the title
Antonio Conte pointed to a change in Chelsea’s formation earlier in the season as the primary reason for their triumphant Premier League campaign.
Successive defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal in September prompted the Italian to switch to 3-4-3, which reaped immediate rewards with a stunning 13-match winning run.
Chelsea never looked back from that point, with Friday’s 1-0 victory at West Brom securing the club’s fifth Premier League crown.
Michy Batshuayi came off the bench to score the decisive goal at The Hawthorns, prompting typically theatrical celebrations from Conte.
“I think the decision [to switch to three at the back] changed our season,” Conte told Sky Sports. “Before, we didn’t have the right balance.
“After the bad defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal, I wanted to change and find a new system, and in my mind there was this option to play with a 3-4-3 because I know the characteristics of the players would allow it, and give us more solidity.
“It’s a great achievement for the players. I have to thank them for their commitment, their work rate at the beginning of the season, they showed me great attitude, great patience, great desire to try to do something great this season.
“And now, after this win, we must be happy and pleased for the whole season.
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“I think tonight [Eden] Hazard and Pedro were a bit tired and I wanted to give more energy with Michy and Willian. I think that Michy paid me back a lot! It’s great for me in my first season.
“It wasn’t easy to arrive in England and try different habits and a different language and also after Chelsea’s bad season. This win is for the players. They showed great commitment.”
Conte also paid tribute to the club’s fans and his backroom staff, before quickly switching his focus to securing the double, with an FA Cup final against Arsenal to come later this month.
“I think it’s great throughout the season the fans have always stayed behind us, at home and away,” he said.
“My staff did a fantastic job. We didn’t have a lot of injuries and that isn’t just luck. Now it’s important to rest, and for it to become a fantastic season we have to win the FA Cup!
“We won this title together. We fought a lot to win this title. Our fans were fantastic. Now I want to celebrate!”