Manchester City were deserved winners in the game at Stamford Bridge on Saturday as a 67th minute goal by former Chelsea winger Kevin De Bruyne was all City needed to take the three points.
Antonio Conte used a 3-5-2/5-3-2 formation against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League to good effect two weeks back as Chelsea came back from 1-0 down to win the game 2-1. However, the formation seemed weak against City as Pep Guardiola’s men bossed the game for much period.
However, Chelsea legend Pat Nevin has revealed that coming after City’s spanking of other teams this season, a 3-4-3 formation would have left the Chelsea midfield too exposed against City.
He wrote in his column for the official Chelsea website: “Another talking point was the decision to go for the 5-3-2 formation again. When you consider we looked better when we reverted to 3-4-3 late on, there will be those who think that it might have been a mistake to change last season’s winning formula, but I reckon that is an over-simplistic reading of this game. For one thing, Manchester City were going at 100mph for the first 70 minutes and they definitely didn’t have the same energy levels to press high later on, so there was more space for the likes of Cesc as the game progressed. Also, teams that have been too open against City this season have been destroyed; think of Liverpool at Anfield when they went down to 10 men and still tried to have a go. The ensuing 5-0 drubbing could have been 7-0 or 8-0 in the end.
“Remember also that the 5-3-2 had worked well against Atletico Madrid in the week and it is a system that stresses certain players less in terms of expending energy. Had we gone with a 3-4-3 with City that bit more rested than us, then the gaps behind our wide midfielders could have been monumentally shown up in the first half.
“I could go on, but it is probably best to move on from this game and learn what we can from it. I am sure Antonio has already done just that and he probably will not spend every minute of the two-week break concerned with it. We lost 1-0 against a good side, we have a winnable run coming up and if I was a Palace player right now, I would already be worried.”