Merson: Chelsea can do anything if Conte rests two key players
By Dominic Toner
Paul Merson believes that Chelsea “can do anything” this season if they rotate their wing-backs.
Antonio Conte has introduced a 3-4-3 formation to the Blues after they fell to a 3-0 defeat to Arsenal in September.
Chelsea have won their last five league games since and have not conceded in that time, with their wing-backs delivering some impressive displays.
Marcus Alonso and Victor Moses have started all five of those games in the wide positions and shown real energy up and down the wing.
The Blues now have the opportunity to move to the top of the Premier League on Sunday if they win away at Middlesbrough.
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Sky Sports pundit Merson claims that Chelsea will need cover in those positions during the season as they are so physically demanding.
“The three at the back is working for Chelsea, and I think the wing-backs have done great. But playing wing-back is the graveyard shift, it’s a hard job,” Merson wrote on Sky Sports. “You’re up and down, up and down all day, you have to be the full-back and the winger at the same time.
“I’d be shocked if Conte can get his wing-backs doing that week in, week out, and when they start getting tired, you start playing five at the back and getting overrun in midfield. If they can rotate their wing-backs, they can do anything.”
Chelsea completed the £20million signing of full-back Alonso in the summer transfer window and he has demonstrated a great balance of both attacking and defensive qualities.
The 25-year-old displayed the same skills at Italian side Fiorentina last season and has slotted perfectly into Chelsea’s left wing-back role.
Moses, 25, has shocked most people by emerging as a regular in the starting XI at right wing-back.
The Nigerian international has been sent away from Stamford Bridge on loan spells at Liverpool, Stoke and West Ham since he signed in 2012.
Conte decided to keep Moses in his squad this season and the winger has dropped back into a more defensive role, but his energy has been crucial to Chelsea’s recent winning streak.
Chelsea could potentially use versatile defender Cesar Azpilicueta at wing-back although he has been impressive at centre-back.
Conte also has 20-year-old Ola Aina in his squad and he has made just one Premier League appearance this season.
In other Chelsea news, Eden Hazard has revealed when he might leave the club.