Gary Cahill has tipped Chelsea to be title contenders come the end of the season, but has admitted that his team are still adapting to their new-found 3-4-3 formation.
The England international is part of a defence that has won three consecutive league games without conceding a single goal, since converting to Antonio Conte’s preferred three-at-the-back system.
Conte deployed such a formation during his time as manager of Juventus where it was very successful, and he is now transferring that model to West London.
Chelsea were impressive in their 4-0 Premier League demolition of Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, but showed signs of weakness in their 2-1 defeat to West Ham in the EFL Cup fourth round.
Cahill though, speaking to the Evening Standard, ensured that the best of the Blues is yet to come: “We can’t get carried away after what happened against Manchester United. We are still getting accustomed to this new formation.
“At the moment it is proving difficult to play against. We have managed to play out from the back well and if we press high, we can cause trouble with the wing backs.
“We are learning as we’re going along but we are adapting the more we use the system.
“It meant a lot to beat Manchester United after losing to Arsenal and Liverpool last month.
“There was a bit of doom and gloom a few weeks ago, but you look at the position we are in now, it’s changed again.
“It’s important that we perform well in big games. Obviously you want to win but the performance against Manchester United was terrific. We are pleased with the last three League games, but we are working on improving the way we play all of the time.”
The top of the Premier League is currently extremely close. It looked as though Pep Guardiola’s free-flowing Manchester City would be the team to beat, but no win in three Premier League games for them means that there is now only one point between first and fifth.
When asked about the possibility of a Chelsea title challenge, Cahill added: “Of course we can be one of the teams fighting for the title. But we are not thinking about winning it right now.
“All I am thinking about at the moment is being in contention because that is the main focus right now – to stay up there.
“But you can see already this season that one team isn’t just going to run away with it. It’s going to be tight, there are going to be lots of changes at the top.”