Antonio Conte says the deadline day signing of David Luiz will give him the option of playing a three-man defence at Chelsea this season, and believes that his squad could be well suited to a 3-4-3 system.
Luiz finalised a shock return to Chelsea last week after the Blues agreed a reported £34 million deal to bring the Brazilian back from Paris Saint-Germain, along with the £23m signing of left-back Marcos Alonso from Fiorentina.
Conte now has seven fit senior defenders to choose from while Kurt Zouma continues his lengthy rehabilitation from a serious knee injury, and this array of options has led to speculation the Italian could be set to return to the 3-5-2 formation that underpinned his successes with Juventus and Italy.
But while Conte admits that a three-man defence is now a possibility for him to consider, he thinks that a 3-4-3 system could provide a better balance.
Asked whether he will consider playing three at the back, Conte replied: “It can be an opportunity, it can be a solution. Yeah, it can happen in the future. I think this squad can play 3-4-3, not 3-5-2 like the national team in Italy and Juventus. I think, because of the characteristics of the players, you can play 3-4-3.”
Chelsea travel to the Liberty Stadium to face Swansea City on Sunday seeking to preserve Conte’s perfect start to life as head coach, having beaten West Ham, Watford and Burnley to rise to second in the Premier League and overcome Bristol Rovers to reach the EFL Cup third round.
The eyes of most will be on the Manchester derby this weekend as United’s Jose Mourinho and City’s Pep Guardiola
“We all know that there is a great match between United and City tomorrow,” he added. “But I think that, at this moment, we must be focused only on our own game. We know that, against Swansea, the game will be very tough. We face a team who are well organized, with a good manager.
“It’s important to look at ourselves and not to look at others. We know that, tomorrow, it’ll be a good game. We enjoy the game on the TV, but it’s important to be focused on our game. That’s most important.”
Chelsea have no new injuries after the international break, though Luiz and Alonso are unlikely to start against Swansea City and Kurt Zouma remains unavailable.
“I saw all the players in good fitness — with the players who remained in Cobham we worked very hard,” Conte said. “I’m happy because, also, the players who came back [from international duty] are in good fitness.”