It took a full six Premier League games for him to do so, but Antonio Conte finally reverted to the three centre-back formation that he loved so much in Italian football during the 2-0 win at Hull City. The move had an immediate effect on the way Chelsea play but brings so much more for fantasy players. We’ll examine why below:
All about them wing backs
Up until this Saturday, Chelsea’s full backs were completely irrelevant from a fantasy point of view. Cesar Azpilicueta, the higher scoring one of the two, has just 4.1 fantasy points per game (FPPG) and inside that he was averaging a pitiful 1.6 crosses per game. As everyone well knows, even with crosses now worth just 0.75pts each they are still a rich source of points. That’s especially been the case in the past with Conte teams and you just knew that he spent upwards of £20 million on Marcos Alonso for a very good reason.
On Alonso’s first start for Chelsea, Conte played him as a left wing back and the Spaniard had a 16.5pt day. It was made so impressive as the points were across a number of categories. Alonso ended the game with five shots, one shot on goal, six crosses, one foul drawn, two tackles won, two interceptions, two fouls conceded and a clean sheet. On the other side, Conte went for Victor Moses, who only had seven fantasy points, and it’s unlikely the Nigerian winger will stay there.
Leicester, who Chelsea play next, will prove a real acid test of the formation and it remains to be seen whether he actually keeps it in place for that game. If he does, get Alonso in your line-ups from here on in.
Watford Got There First
Another Italian manager who arrived in the summer was Walter Mazzarri and he got the three centre-back formation out even earlier than his mate Conte. Anyone that watched Mazzarri’s Napoli sides knew exactly what to expect and his use of Jose Holebas and Nordin Amrabat is exactly what he likes.
Both of the wing backs popped up with an assist in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Bournemouth and Holebas, in particular, is the one that has fantasy managers getting excited as he has 9.4 FPPG.
Holebas’ numbers defensively are not worth bothering with (eight tackles won and 13 interceptions this season) and it’s very much further up the pitch that he is having success. The Greek is averaging 4.42 crosses per game and has had 12 shots (four on goal), the latter figure particularly impressive for a defender.
Looking at Watford is a very good barometer of how Chelsea’s defenders will score in the coming weeks and something to take into consideration when building line-ups for the next Premier League slate.