In Depth

Conte and Moses turn Chelsea into title contenders

Manager praised for new formation after triumph against Southampton, with special mention for the 'rampaging wing back'

Chelsea's victory over Southampton has been hailed as the most significant Premier League result of the weekend, placing the Blues clear of fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur and only one point behind Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool.

"It was neither the most dramatic nor the most emphatic result you will see in the Premier League this season, but there was something mightily impressive about the way Chelsea swept to victory on the south coast," says Oliver kay of The Times.

Since manager Antonio Conte abandoned the idea of a back four and switched to the 3-4-3 system he preferred to use in Italy, the Blues have won four league games on the trot, with an aggregate score of 11-0 to become genuine title contenders.

Chelsea's headliners, Diego Costa and Eden Hazard, scored a goal apiece in the 2-0 win, "but, above all," says Kay, "this was a powerful collective performance, typified by the apparent transformations of Victor Moses into a rampaging wing back and David Luiz, on this occasion at least, into the type of defender who thinks safety-first.

"Suddenly, what appeared a strange line-up at first glance a month ago looks like a well-tuned system, full of round pegs in round holes."

The formation – Luiz with Cesar Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill at the back - "doesn’t scream solidity, but the results speak for themselves", agrees Niall McVeigh of The Guardian.

"In two weeks, Antonio Conte has gone from laughing off rumours of the sack to clearing a space on his shelf for a Manager of the Month award," he adds. 

And it is Moses who sums up the transformation. The 25-year-old player has won praise for his "attitude and adaptability", says McVeigh, and "wingers on defensive duty are rarely as disciplined and assured as Moses was at St Mary's".

He adds: "It has been a long time coming, but Moses may have found his place in what looks a formidable Chelsea team."

Moses played his first league match for Chelsea for three years on the opening day of the season, writes Alan Smith in the Daily Telegraph. He had spent much of the intervening period out on loan and even when he when he came off the bench against West Ham, "you could never have guessed how things would develop, how he would win a starting place in a side who must now be considered as real contenders in this title race". 

The win over Southampton provided "another ringing endorsement" of Conte's new system and Moses's place within it, Smith adds.

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