Conte not too scared to change
Antonio drops Ivanovic and watches as Chelsea kill the Hull City Tigers
Antonio Conte reacted as you’d expect to a 3-0 roasting by Arsenal. The fiery Italian ripped up Chelsea’s formation, became the first manager since Andre Villas-Boas to drop Branislav Ivanovic and watched as Diego Costa helped end their worrying mini-slump in the 2-0 victory.
Their record arriving on Humberside was virtually a crisis by Roman Abramovich’s standards, one point out from a possible nine with seven goals conceded.
So just like Jose Mourinho a week ago at Manchester United when he left out Wayne Rooney, Conte did not shy away from making big changes.
He lined up with a three-man central defence, two unlikely wing-backs in Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso, and Ivanovic watching from the bench — the first time the Serbian has been left out of a Premier League fixture since the 2011-12 campaign.
The rewards weren’t immediate with Chelsea indebted to two fine saves by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in order to reach halftime level.
But after that they moved up the gears with midfielders N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic powering further forward and two sumptuous finishes from Willian and Costa from near-identical positions sealing the points.
“We played with a real intensity,” said Conte, who had briefly experimented with his new formation in the second half at the Emirates when the game had already been lost.
“It is never easy after two defeats but it was important to keep a clean sheet here after conceding two and three goals,” said the Italian. “We were able to defend very high and this is very important.
“The team was always compact and when we lost the ball, we tried to win it back quickly. When you work together, it is easy.”
There was scant sympathy for Ivanovic, 32, who has been a mainstay of Chelsea’s glory era.
“I try to choose the best for the team because I want to win and the fans want to win,” added Conte.
“It is important all the players must be involved in the project, young and old. We work together and it is important to trust the work.”
Hull had never beaten Chelsea in the Premier League but might have been encouraged by the surprising line-up Conte used.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte
Liverpool’s James Milner scores their second goal from the penalty spot/