How Chelsea's deadline day signings might give Conte a chance to switch up formations
The signing of Danny Drinkwater from Leicester City and Davide Zappacosta from Torino has given manager Antonio Conte much-needed depth in his squad after a mixed start to the season.
Despite signing Alvaro Morata, Antonio Rudiger, and Tiemoué Bakayoko before the season started, Chelsea still looked very vulnerable in their defence, that had shown cracks towards the end of last season, especially in the FA Cup final loss to Arsenal.
This seemed to have continued as Chelsea lost their opening match to Burnley 3-2, with N'Golo Kante putting in a poor performance. The Blues won their next two matches against Tottenham and Everton but there were worrying signs in defence and in midfield. Conte seemed to lack a plan B and more teams are seemingly starting to find a way through the Italian's robust 3-5-2 formation.
The signing of Zappacosta and Drinkwater may have been underwhelming for some, but they might actually turn out to be the most important signings for Chelsea.
Bakayoko and Kante are extremely similar players, with the former having less tactical awareness at times. Fabregas, while brilliant in a CAM role, is made to play a CDM role mostly by Conte, a position he does not perform well in.
Zappacosta, on the other hand, is a vital signing as Chelsea has been using Victor Moses as a makeshift right wing-back and is the team's weak link.
The two players might finally allow Conte to fiddle around with his 3-5-2 formation should the team face an opposing team that knows a way around it.
The presence of a proper right-back and a more ball playing midfielder in Drinkwater allows a 4-3-3 formation where Kante is the CDM in front of the back four while Fabregas and Drinkwater plays behind the front three, with Fabregas playing in a slightly more advanced role where he thrives.
A 4-2-3-1 with Drinkwater and Kante in front of the back four is also possible if Conte finds Bakayoko to be too similar to Kante. The presence of Drinkwater essentially might convince Conte to allow Fabregas to play higher up the pitch in an area where he is able to influence the game.