Hazard leaving Chelsea? – Star set to go after top four failure

After a performance that has been heavily criticised by pundits, Chelsea’s loss to Manchester City has made finishing in the top four look extremely unlikely for the Blues. Champions League football is a must for attracting and keeping top players. Missing out could be a catalyst for Eden Hazard leaving Chelsea.

The Belgian is arguably one of the best players to represent the club. Since joining in the summer of 2012 he has been a key performer for Chelsea. But the possibility of him staying with the Blues for the long haul has been constantly questioned.

Hazard has made no secret of his admiration for current Los Blancos boss Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid. The temptation for any player to pull on that famous white shirt is enough to worry adoring fans that their current favourites could move at any time.

This summer seems the most likely yet that Hazard leaving Chelsea is a real possibility. Hazard is yet to pen a new deal. Now he may be looking to move on after six seasons in the capital.

When taking a look at Hazard’s Chelsea stats, his potential departure is a major concern for the club.

Is Eden Hazard leaving Chelsea?

It’s easy to see how influential Hazard is for Chelsea. He has been directly involved in 160 goals in his 287 games in all competitions. His two Premier League titles, Europa League and League Cup is an impressive haul of trophies so far.

Hazard has successfully completed 940 dribbles in the Premier League and European competitions since joining Chelsea. That is bettered by Lionel Messi (1045), but not Cristiano Ronaldo (388) or Neymar (861).

Hazard leaving Chelsea – Title defence failure

Although City have taken the league by storm this season, Chelsea’s title defence has been poor to say the least. It’s the second title defence in a row where Chelsea have not been up to the races.

For Hazard to continue his growth as a player and to be recognised as one of the elite he needs to be winning or challenging consistently for a league title every season. That is not happening for him at Chelsea, which will be increasing his frustrations.

Hazard leaving Chelsea – New challenge & Ballon d’Or

A new challenge may be on the Belgian’s mind. As mentioned, he has been with Chelsea for six seasons now. In the modern game longevity is becoming a less frequent feature of a career.

At 27, Hazard is now in his prime years and he arguably has six seasons at left in him at the very top of his game. He will want to be challenging to win the Ballon d’Or year-on-year during that time. While Messi and Ronaldo are still dominating European stats, Hazard is a name that is constantly thrown into the ring for those who are expected to hit the highest levels.

Winning the Ballon d’Or while playing in the Premier League is not a very frequent occurrence. The last time it happened was in 2001. So even with the domination of Messi and Ronaldo from 2008 onwards – it seems unlikely for anything to change any time soon.

Hazard leaving Chelsea – Champions League desire

Winning the Champions League is at the top of the list for every player in Europe. Hazard is facing the prospect of not playing in the competition for the second time in just three seasons. While Chelsea are still in the current round of the competition, they aren’t being backed by many to advance.

His desire to win the competition is natural. It’s all to apparent how difficult it is to win the Champions League while playing with the pressure of what is known as the toughest league in the world.

While doing no discredit to the strength of the remainder of Europe’s top leagues, they are seen as easier routes to having a better chance of winning the Champions League, which may be a factor in Hazard’s decision to move on.

Is Hazard leaving Chelsea this summer?

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Eden Hazard joins former teammates to become part-owners of San Diego NASL team

Eden Hazard has joined forces with fellow professionals Demba Ba, Yohan Cabaye and Moussa Sow to invest in a new NASL expansion side in San Diego, in what is an intriguing move for soccer fans across the globe.

The quartet of stars are funding the formation of the new team alongside local investors in San Diego, although a full team name has yet to be confirmed.

Hazard played 115 games alongside Cabaye and 70 alongside Sow while at Lille, before playing 35 times alongside Demba Ba at Chelsea following his move to the Premier League in 2012.

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San Diego will become the 10th team in the NASL when they enter play in Spring 2018, alongside a fellow expansion team in Orange County.

San Diego is expected to welcome a professional soccer team back to the area with open arms. There are an estimated 3.3 million people in the area and more than 50,000 youth players.

Chelsea star Hazard is one of the world’s most talented and widely recognised stars. He said San Diego’s passion for soccer is one of the key reasons behind the investment.

“San Diego is a beautiful place and the love and passion the people have for soccer made this an easy choice for us. My friends and I are honored to turn this dream into a reality and we can’t wait to get started and win some games.”

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Hazard’s former Chelsea teammate Demba Ba – who currently plays for Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua but is on loan at Besiktas – is planning for success in the NASL and beyond.

“Success is our goal – with the club, with the community, with everything that we do,” Ba said. “One of our goals is to sign players who have a strong passion for the game, who are competitive and love to win.

“I look forward to competing against our fellow California clubs and the rest of the NASL, as well as MLS clubs in the U.S. Open Cup. It is going to be up to us to be the best.”

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The expansion club will play their home matches at the University of San Diego until their own soccer-specific stadium is built, with sites currently being considered in North County.

The news comes just a couple of months after Didier Drogba became football’s first player-owner with USL side Phoenix Rising and there is a sense that an increasing number of the games biggest stars may be looking to invest in US Soccer.

AC Milan legend Paolo Maldini is the co-owner of NASL side Miami FC, who are coached by Alessandro Nesta. While David Beckham’s own Miami project recently received a boost in its pursuit of an MLS Expansion Team, following the acquisition of the land needed to build a 25,000-seater stadium.

Do Liverpool hold the key in Hazard’s Chelsea departure with attempt to sign €80m Madrid star?

Liverpool could potentially play a key role in Eden Hazard leaving Chelsea at the end of the season as they are reportedly interested in signing Real Madrid playmaker James Rodriguez, so long as they qualify for next season’s Champions League.

The Colombian has been in and out of the Madrid side since joining for a whopping €80 million in 2014, but Los Blancos may well entertain offers for him this summer in a bid to fund a potential world-record transfer for Hazard.

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It’s no secret the Chelsea man is wanted by Real. Many have dubbed him a ‘Real Madrid sort of player’ and with the current state of the transfer market in mind this could be the first fee to reach over £100m.

Madrid have broken transfer records to land Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale and are unlikely to hesitate doing the same thing to bring Hazard to the Bernabeu this summer.

Chelsea are not a club renowned for selling their top players but have been making a name for themselves with the business they’ve been doing over the last few seasons in terms of selling stars they no longer need for big money. While Hazard certainly doesn’t fall into that category it shows if the right price is offered they could agree to sell him.

An offer of the sort of value that is being spoken about would no doubt be tempting for any club, no matter how good the player is and it would provide Chelsea with the purchasing power to sign a like-for-like replacement and potentially break even.

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Jurgen Klopp looks set to be preparing for the possibility of life after Philippe Coutinho, who is heavily tipped for a move to Barcelona in the coming months, so the potential purchase of Rodriguez would almost definitely have a knock-on effect across Europe.

One thing is for sure, if Real Madrid want Hazard they will do everything possible to get him. They’ve got a history of splashing huge amounts of cash on players and would no doubt be willing to spend whatever it takes to get their man, even if they were to keep hold of Rodriguez.

Will Rodriguez join Liverpool? Is Hazard on his way out of Chelsea?

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Chelsea vs Arsenal

Competition: Premier League – Chelsea vs. Arsenal 

Venue: Stamford Bridge – Saturday, February 4 – 12:30 GMT (07:30 ET)

Match Odds: Chelsea 10/11 – Draw 5/2 – Arsenal 29/10

Match Preview 

It’s a huge game in the Premier League title race as Chelsea welcome Arsenal to Stamford Bridge on Saturday in the standout fixture of the weekend.

If Antonio Conte’s side win this one they will be 12 points clear of Arsenal at the top of the league, which given Chelsea’s form, would almost certainly put The Gunners out of contention for the title.

Chelsea come into this one having drawn 1-1 away at Liverpool in midweek. It was a solid point but they’ll be ruing a missed opportunity to have extended their lead at the top of the table as results went their way on the most part. Diego Costa’s penalty was saved in the latter stages of the game, he’ll be looking to make up for that in this one.

There will be an added hunger for Chelsea to win this game as they were hammered in the reserve fixture, 3-0 early on in the season, many have dubbed that the game that won Chelsea the league, as it inspired Conte’s changes and sparked their tremendous winning run.

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Arsenal have to win this game. They lost in midweek at home to Watford a game which has dealt them a significant blow and they need a response.

Arsene Wenger’s side found themselves two goals behind in the first 15 minutes of that game, if their defensive struggles are repeated in this one they will be in for a long afternoon.

The Arsenal squad are going to need to step up here, they cannot afford to allow Chelsea to gain any momentum. What worked so well for them in the reserve fixture was a highly intense start, but they’re all too aware this is a different Chelsea side altogether.

Just five points separate second and fifth place in the table, if results go against Arsenal this weekend they could find themselves outside the top four.

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Team News  

There are no real injury concerns for Chelsea heading into this tie. David Luiz and Eden Hazard are expected to start the game despite picking up slight knocks in midweek.

Arsenal are expecting to be without Santi Cazorla, Mathieu Debuchy and Aaron Ramsey through injury, while Grant Xhaka is suspended and Mohammed Elneny remains on international duty.

Key Points 

Chelsea’s form: W/L/W/W/D

Arsenal’s form: W/D/W/W/L

Key Stat: Chelsea have won their last eight home games in the Premier League.

Key Player: Eden Hazard – The Belgian had a quiet game against Liverpool but if plays to his usual high standard he will cause the Arsenal defence problems.

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Score Prediction

Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal – Chelsea to come through a difficult week of fixtures unbeaten and land a heavy blow to Arsenal’s season. This has the makings of a tight affair and it is a game that has a history of boiling over as emotions run high.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Chelsea vs Tottenham

Competition: Premier League – Chelsea vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Venue: Stamford Bridge – Saturday, 26 November – 17:30 GMT (12:30 ET) 

Match Odds: Chelsea 8/11 – Draw 14/5 – Spurs 18/5

Match Preview

Chelsea face Spurs in what is a huge Premier League clash between the two London rivals on Saturday evening, with Tottenham looking to end a 26-year wait for a win at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea come into the weekend at the top of the table and have won six on the bounce, keeping a clean sheet in each of those victories.

Antonio Conte has the Blues looking like genuine title contenders and they’ll be looking to continue to prove their credentials with a win against Spurs here. They’ve won more games against Tottenham than against any other Premier League side and are rightly favourites.

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Last season’s meeting between these two was dubbed ‘The Battle of the Bridge’ after 12 players were booked in a fierce contest and an equally hostile clash is expected on Saturday.

Spurs arrive at Chelsea after being eliminated from the Champions League following their 2-1 loss at AS Monaco on Tuesday evening.

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Their dramatic 3-2 win over West Ham last weekend already seems a distant memory and all focus is now on this huge clash. Spurs remain unbeaten in the Premier League but know this will probably be their toughest test of the season so far.

It’s been 26 years since Spurs last won at Stamford Bridge. 16 of Tottenham’s first-team squad weren’t even born then, while the Premier League hadn’t even been formed.

Team News

Chelsea will soon be able to welcome back Kurt Zouma from his long-term injury but he is lacking match fitness and probably won’t be in the squad here. The same applies for Marco Van Ginkel, who is close to being match ready. But Antonio Conte is unlikely to make any changes to his side, with the 3-4-3 formation proving impossible for opposition sides to cope with.

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino made four changes for the Champions League defeat in Monaco on Tuesday but the likes of Jan Vertonghen, Christian Eriksen and Kyle Walker will come back in to the starting lineup here. Danny Rose is suspended, while Ben Davies is injured so Vertonghen will have to fill in at left-back, with Kevin Wimmer likely to start alongside Eric Dier in the heart of the Tottenham defence. Erik Lamela and Toby Alderweireld remain injured, while Harry Winks will be hoping for a third successive start after impressing against West Ham last weekend.

Key Points

Chelsea’s last five: W/W/W/W/W

Tottenham’s last five: D/D/D/D/W

Key Stat: Tottenham have not won any of their last 29 trips to Stamford Bridge. They last won at Chelsea on February 10, 1990 – 26 years ago.

Key Player: Eden Hazard scored the equaliser in the last meeting between these sides to hand the Premier League title to Leicester. He has now scored in four of his last five against Spurs and is in great form heading into the tie.

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Score Prediction

Chelsea 2-0 Spurs – Spurs might be unbeaten in league play this season but they are heading to the Premier League’s in-form team and fierce London rivals. Their Champions League defeat in midweek, coupled with injuries to key players, leaves them in a vulnerable position. Chelsea, on the other hand, are looking unstoppable and haven’t conceded a goal in over two months. Home win.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Middlesbrough vs Chelsea

Competition: Premier League – Chelsea vs. Everton

Venue: Riverside Stadium – Sunday, November 20 – 16:00 GMT (11:00 ET) 

Match Odds: Middlesbrough 5/1 – Draw 29/10 – Chelsea 4/7 

Match Preview

Middlesbrough welcome Chelsea to the Riverside Stadium on Sunday afternoon in what has the makings of a game that could throw up a surprise result.

Before the international break, Boro had been enjoying a solid run of form, picking up six points from five games, including impressive draws against Arsenal and City.

Aitor Karanka knows his side have the capability of upsetting anyone this season. Middlesbrough are sitting 15th in the Premier League and are giving a good account of themselves on their return to the top flight.

Worryingly for Boro, they have not managed a positive result against Chelsea in their last six attempts, losing all of those games, what a time this would be to bring that run to an end.

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Chelsea were flying as they headed into the international break. Antonio Conte has seen his side win every league game (5) since switching to 3-4-3. Their 5-0 demolition of Everton last time out sent out a message to the rest of the title chasing sides.

The Blues haven’t conceded in those fives games and are now sitting second in the league. They will be seeing this as an opportunity to make it six wins in a row.

If history is anything to go by, this should be a routine win for Chelsea, not only have they won their last six in a row against Middlesbrough, they have also kept a clean sheet in all of those games.

The Chelsea squad has been hit by a few injuries in the last few weeks, which only heightens the importance of depth, something they have in abundance.

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Team News

Middlesbrough could be without three for the visit of Chelsea as James Husband, George Friend and Daniel Ayala are all doubts.

Chelsea’s main concern will be over the fitness of their two most important players this season, Diego Costa and Eden Hazard, who both returned from the international carrying knocks. Conte will still be expecting to be without Kurt Zouma, Cesc Fabregas and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

Key Points

Middlesbrough’s last five: D/L/D/W/D

Chelsea’s last five: W/W/W/W/W

Key Stat: Chelsea have won their last six games against Middlesbrough in all competitions.

Key Player: Pedro – The Chelsea winger has been completely revitalised under Conte. He is playing with the confidence that resulted in his move to the West Londoners. Pedro’s energy and ability to provide both goals and assists has caused trouble for opposition defenders this season and he will be looking to play a key role this weekend.

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Score Prediction

Middlesbrough 0-2 Chelsea – Boro to come unstuck against a Chelsea side who are expected to take all three points here. The Blues have shown a real togetherness under Conte and are relishing playing in the 3-4-3. Middlesbrough will be able to cause Chelsea problems, but given their defensive strength and energy in the side, they’d be forgiven for falling short here.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Chelsea vs Everton

Competition: Premier League – Chelsea vs. Everton

Venue: Stamford Bridge – Saturday, November 5 – 17:30 GMT (13:30 ET) 

Match Odds: Chelsea 8/15 – Draw 16/5 – Everton 19/4 

Match Preview

Chelsea welcome Everton to Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening in a fixture that has produced some classic matches full of goals in recent times.

Antonio Conte’s side continued their winning streak last weekend with their 2-0 victory over Southampton, it was their fourth consecutive Premier League win without conceding a goal.

If history is anything to go by we could be in for plenty of action in this one as there have been 23 goals in the last six meetings between the sides in all competitions.

Chelsea will want to go into the international break preserving their defensive record and will see this as a chance to increase their winning run to five games.

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Everton ended their four-game winless run with their 2-0 victory over West Ham last time out, but they know they have a tough game on their hands here.

Ronald Koeman’s side trail Chelsea by just four points heading into this one. They have had a strong opening ten games (W5-D3-L2) and look capable of pushing for the top six this season.

Everton have struggled for positive results at Stamford Bridge, they have failed to win away against Chelsea in their last 22 attempts. This would be an ideal time to put that unwanted run to an end.

The Toffees can take heart in the fact that they have scored at least twice in their last three matches against Chelsea. If they can breach the three-man backline they will be within a great chance of picking up a favourable result.

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Team News

Conte is likely to be without four players through injury as Cesc Fabregas, John Obi Mikel, Kurt Zouma and Marco van Ginkel remain in their recovery period.

Everton’s injury list seems to continue to worsen as Leighton Baines, Arouna Kone, Muhamed Besic, Tyias Browning, James McCarthy and Matthew Pennington are all expected to remain out. Idrissa Gueye is serving his one-game suspension.

Key Points

Chelsea’s last five: L/W/W/W/W

Everton’s last five: L/D/D/L/W

Key Stat: Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 22 home games against Everton in all competitions.

Key Player: David Luiz – Much was made of Chelsea resigning Luiz. The Brazilian has played an integral role since Chelsea switched to 3-4-3 and looks a far more mature player since returning to the club. The fan-favourite is showing both leadership qualities and passion that Chelsea lacked last season.

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Score Prediction

Chelsea 1-0 Everton – The Blues have been on an incredible run of form in the Premier League. They have looked far more resilient defensively and have the ability to make it five clean sheets in a row this weekend.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Chelsea vs Manchester United

Competition: Premier League – Chelsea vs. Manchester United

Venue: Stamford Bridge – Sunday, October 23 – 16:00 BST (11:00 ET) 

Match Odds: Chelsea 23/20 – Draw 9/4 – Man Utd 5/2 

Match Preview

Chelsea take on Manchester United and welcome back Jose Mourinho on Sunday in what is set to be arguably their biggest game of the season so far.

The Blues have been inconsistent over their last five games. They’ve only picked up seven points from a possible 15, but have won their last two.

Antonio Conte was pleased with Chelsea’s 3-0 win over Leicester last weekend. He has seen his side put in some strong performances since opting for a formation change to his more familiar 3-5-2.

This is going to be a huge occasion for Chelsea fans and a number of players who won the league with Mourinho just two seasons ago. He should receive a warm reception but he will quickly be reminded that he is ‘the enemy’ once the game kicks off.

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Manchester United have been in a poor run of form domestically, picking up just five points from the last 15 on offer.

Mourinho tightened things up defensively against Liverpool in their last Premier League game, but allowed his side to play with more freedom in their Europa League demolition in midweek. Paul Pogba starred in that game, scoring twice. He will be looking to continue to prove doubters wrong here.

The emotions will be high for Mourinho on his second return as an opposition manager to Stamford Bridge, much of the build up has focused on him as United manager, which may well help to keep a little pressure off some of his underperforming stars.

Manchester United will be looking to put an end to an unwanted run of ten without a win against Chelsea in all compeitions. Mourinho won his only other visit to the Bridge as an opposition manager and he will be desperate to win here.

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Team News

Chelsea will still be without Kurt Zouma as he continues his recovery from a long term knee injury. John Terry has been declared fit by Conte. Oscar, Branislav Ivanovic, Cesc Fabregas and John Obi Mikel were all unavailable for selection last weekend, they remain doubts. It remains to be seen whether Willian will return from compassionate leave.

Manchester United could be without Chris Smalling as he came off in their midweek Europa League with a muscle injury. Phil Jones remains out, while Morgan Schneiderlin is a doubt.

Key Points

Chelsea’s last five: D/L/L/W/W

Manchester United’s last five: L/L/W/D/D

Key Stat: Chelsea are unbeaten against Manchester United in their last ten meetings in all competitions.

Key Player: Diego Costa – Chelsea’s goal-machine and talisman will be itching to keep his goalscoring run going this weekend. Costa is the Premier League’s top scorer with seven.

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Score Prediction

Chelsea 1-1 Manchester United – There have been four draws in the last five meetings between these two sides. Chelsea have struggled against the so-called ‘top sides’ this season and will be desperate to extend their unbeaten run to three. Manchester United to draw their third on the bounce, but importantly avoid defeat away from home in a difficult fixture.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Swansea City vs Chelsea

Competition: Premier League – Swansea City vs. Chelsea

Venue: Liberty Stadium – Sunday, September 11 – 16:00 BST (09:00 ET)

Match Odds: Swansea City 4/1 – Draw 29/10 – Chelsea 4/6

Match Preview

Swansea City welcome Chelsea to the Liberty Stadium on Sunday afternoon in the penultimate game of the Premier League weekend.

The Swans have lost their last two and will be low on confidence coming into this tie. They started the season with a win but fell to a 2-1 defeat against Leicester in their last outing.

Francesco Guidolin will be looking for his side to frustrate Chelsea in this one. This is going to be a tough tie for Swansea and they will have to pick their moments right against a Chelsea side who have started the season well.

The last meeting between these two at the Liberty ended with a 1-0 win for Swansea, they will hope for a similar performance but this is a different Chelsea side to that of last season.

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Chelsea have picked up maximum points from their opening three games and will be feeling confident of making it four wins from four here.

Antonio Conte will be pleased with how his side have adapted to his tactics and it is clear to see his passion is rubbing off on the side.

Chelsea’s key players have stepped back up to the levels they were showing before their nightmare season last time around and they will be looking to continue to send out a message to the rest of the league this weekend.

So long as Chelsea remain focused and perform how they have in their previous three games a win should be within their grasp here, but they cannot take anything for granted and know they will be in for a tricky afternoon.

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Team News

Borja Baston is the only player Swansea are expecting to be without in this tie.

Kurt Zouma remains Chelsea’s only player out through injury ahead of this one. Conte now has the option of whether or not to start new signings David Luiz and Marcos Alonso, to see both start would be a surprise considering they have had limited training sessions alongside the full squad.

Key Points

Swansea City’s form: W/L/L

Chelsea’s form: W/W/W

Key Stat: Chelsea have scored at least two goals in each of their three games in the Premier League so far this season, compared to Swansea’s two goals overall.

Key Player: Eden Hazard – The Chelsea star is looking like he is hitting the form he is known for, when he’s in the mood he’s near impossible to stop

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Score Prediction

Swansea City 0-2 Chelsea – Chelsea to continue their run of form and consistency of scoring at least two goals. This could be a long afternoon for Swansea if Chelsea perform like their fans know they can.

Will this be Conte’s best Chelsea lineup this season?

Chelsea left it late again to take all three points at the weekend in a performance that showed they lacked creativity in the final third and weaknesses in defence. While Antonio Conte’s men have got six points from a possible six, they are yet to show any real cutting edge, but as we know, winning games in the style they have is exactly what potential champions do.

While their early form doesn’t suggest Chelsea will win the title this season, they are already grinding out results when needing to. If they can improve performances they will be in a great position to challenge for silverware this term.

It’s obvious there is still work to be done at Chelsea for them to improve. Conte has made it clear he wants another defender and rightly so, as there have been the same defensive issues troubling them in the early stages of this season that were apparent throughout the disappointing 2015/16 campaign.

Conte has been making game-changing substitutions that have without question won Chelsea both of their matches so far. So let’s have a look at their potential best starting lineup and how a formation change could be needed to improve their performances from here on out.

Potential starting XI via lineupbuilder.com

Potential starting XI via lineupbuilder.com

As we can see above, the 4-1-3-2 is a less common formation but something that has a lot of potential to work for Chelsea. Regardless of who has been in charge at the club, 4-2-3-1 has been the preferred Chelsea formation, but it has become predictable and is showing signs of weakness.

The 4-1-3-2 formation allows a completely different dynamic to the setup. While the apparent strength of attacking wingers – who both play high up the pitch and drop in for defensive play – is still a key theme, the option of two strikers will provide a headache for opposition defenders.

Forward play:

Michy Batshuayi has to be starting alongside Diego Costa. The two have played less than a half of football together this season and already appear to have a telepathic relationship brewing. Batshuayi’s knockdown to Costa allowed the Spaniard to net the winner in their opening game against West Ham and both strikers were on the scoresheet at the weekend, with the goals finally coming while they were both on the pitch.

Having a striker next to him affords Costa more room to manoeuvre, get in behind and go unnoticed as he is not up against both centre-backs at the same time.

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In the middle: 

Chelsea lacked creativity throughout their game against Watford at the weekend and it was only when Cesc Fabregas came on that they looked threatening. Fabregas creates so much room for his teammates both on and off the ball, as opponents know they cannot afford to give him space. As soon as the Spaniard gets on the ball he is looking for a defence-splitting pass or to bring a winger into play.

Having Fabregas come in for Matic also allows Kante to drop into the deeper anchoring role on his own, where he is at his best. Kante can then break up play and continually feed Fabregas with the ball rather than having to try and be a creator himself.

Service to the wingers and forwards was evidently weak in the game against Watford, while the partnership of Matic and Kante is excellent defensively, the pair offer little creativity going forward.

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At the back:

Chelsea still look lacklustre at the back. The positioning of their defenders was to blame for going behind to a screamer of a strike at the weekend, while an inability to clear the ball properly under-pressure in their first game saw their backline breached.

In an ideal starting lineup, Kurt Zouma would play for Chelsea but as we know, he is still a long way off playing. Zouma’s pace and strength make him a great option at right-back, a position where Branislav Ivanovic appears to be struggling.

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Playing this XI also leaves an incredibly strong bench to change things if they aren’t going well for Conte, although many would argue the likes of Oscar, Matic, Ivanovic, Pedro and Victor Moses should be getting a look in to start games.

Moses has made a great impact in both his appearances off the bench this season, while the likes of Matic, Pedro and Ivanovic have somewhat struggled to show their class in the early stages.

Playing a 4-1-3-2 formation would also be beneficial for Oscar, as although he may not start every game ahead of Fabregas he still has the ability to take up other positions such as on the wing or rotate throughout the season in the number ten role.

While we aren’t suggesting Conte will opt for this style of play it is something that could potentially work for Chelsea and make them less predictable going forward. It is going to be interesting to see if the Italian makes any further signings before the window closes and how they will continue to lineup in the coming weeks.

Should Chelsea opt for a different formation? Does Batshuayi need to be starting alongside Costa from now on?