Conte struggling to find ‘the right balance’

Antonio Conte, Chelsea

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte admits that team selection is giving him a headache after Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Leicester City.

Conte’s preferred formation this season has been a 3-5-2 with Eden Hazard just behind striker Alvaro Morata, but he changed back to a 3-4-3 in the second half at Stamford Bridge as he tried unsuccessfully to prevent it from being the first time in the club’s history that they played to three successive goalless draws.

The Blues have had a busy schedule with an FA Cup tie against Norwich City and League Cup encounter against Arsenal, and Conte has struggled to juggle the commitments.

"My plan was to play with one team in the FA Cup and then these two games with almost the same players. But I think I saw a lot of players very tired," Conte said.

"Against Norwich, I made nine changes. Against Arsenal maybe 10 changes. I thought that two games, after two and a half days, for the same players was normal to recover. But we have to consider that, in this period, to face all competitions is not simple.

"The first thing I have to find is the right balance. At the same time, against Norwich, we played 3-4-3 with Pedro, Willian and [Michy] Batshuayi, but we didn't score. It was the same.

"This is not a problem with the system. In both systems we are conceding less but, with both systems, we are scoring less than last season. We have to try to improve on this aspect."

The Blues will be unable to finish a fourth match without a goal, as Wednesday’s FA Cup second leg against the Canaries will head to extra time and penalties if there’s no breakthrough at the Bridge.