Chelsea back to winning ways

Antonio Conte reacted as you’d expect to a 3-0 roasting by Arsenal. The fiery Italian ripped up Chelsea’s formation, became the first manager since Andre Villas-Boas to drop Branislav Ivanovic and watched as Diego Costa helped end their worrying mini-slump.

Their record arriving on Humberside was virtually a crisis by Roman Abramovich’s standards, one point out from a possible nine with seven goals conceded.

So just like Jose Mourinho a week ago at Manchester United when he left out Wayne Rooney, Conte did not shy away from making big changes.

He lined up with a three-man central defence, two unlikely wing-backs in Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso, and Ivanovic watching from the bench — the first time the Serbian has been left out of a Premier League fixture since the 2011-12 campaign.

The rewards weren’t immediate with Chelsea indebted to two fine saves by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in order to reach half-time level.

But after that they moved up the gears with midfielders N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic powering further forward and two sumptuous finishes from Willian and Costa from near-identical positions sealing the points.

‘We played with a real intensity,’ said Conte, who had briefly experimented with his new formation in the second half at the Emirates when the game had already been lost.

‘It is never easy after two defeats but it was important to keep a clean sheet here after conceding two and three goals,’ said the Italian. ‘We were able to defend very high and this is very important.

‘The team was always compact and when we lost the ball, we tried to win it back quickly. When you work together, it is easy.’

here was scant sympathy for Ivanovic, 32, who has been a mainstay of Chelsea’s glory era.

‘I try to choose the best for the team because I want to win and the fans want to win,’ added Conte.

‘It is important all the players must be involved in the project, young and old. We work together and it is important to trust the work.’

Hull had never beaten Chelsea in the Premier League but might have been encouraged by the surprising line-up Conte used.

Indeed, the home side came closest to scoring. After four minutes, Courtois flew across his goal to beat away a Robert Snodgrass free-kick.

Right on the interval, the Belgium goalkeeper had to be alert to save again when Ryan Mason let fly from 25 yards.

Having survived those scares, Chelsea’s midfield players appeared to be given the license to power forward. Kante set up Costa to hit the post and then fired the rebound over the top, but it proved to be only a temporary let-off for the home side.

Willian fed Costa and when the striker played a pass for Eden Hazard, Willian took it off his team-mate’s toes and curled an inch-perfect finish past David Marshall from 20 yards.

Poor Marshall couldn’t get near it and six minutes later Costa scored a carbon copy from a similar range, bending his finish into the top corner after Matic had rampaged forward and seen a shot charged down.

It was Costa’s sixth Premier League goal — it took him until January to reach that tally last season. Conte must be relieved Chelsea did not sanction his sale back to his old club Atletico Madrid during the summer.

‘It is fantastic for him and for us,’ added Conte. ‘I think Diego has the opportunity in every game to score goals but the most important thing is he worked hard.’

Fearing another heavy beating, Hull settled on damage limitation this time. The busy Marshall saved from substitute Oscar and Moses was denied a penalty after a trip by Andy Robertson.

Chelsea’s former England Under-21 midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah came on to make his first Premier League appearance for the club.

Hull’s still-interim manager Mike Phelan has now presided over four defeats in five League games — albeit against big-hitters Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea.

Remains to be seen if the blues have put thier mini slump to bed

excerpts from www.dailymail.co.uk

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