Chelsea’s strong start to the new campaign has been slowed in recent weeks with a solitary point from their last two Premier League games, which included a 2-1 home defeat to fellow top-four challengers Liverpool.
Antonio Conte’s men are straight back into action against another of English football’s elite sides as they face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday evening.
STANDARD Marcos Alonso's Chelsea debut puts Branislav Ivanovic's Stamford Bridge future in doubt: Should Marc… https://t.co/86xYbVGhvN
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The visitors are set to face a Gunners side that is building confidence after three consecutive domestic wins and with an array of attacking weaponry akin to that which overpowered them against Liverpool.
With one of the Premier League’s most scintillating attackers, Alexis Sanchez, set to feature on the left wing for the hosts, Conte should make a change in personnel if his side are to leave North London with anything to show for their efforts.
There has been a consensus that Branislav Ivanovic is a waning force and this has been cruelly exposed against attackers with pace.
The Serbian right-back will surely not relish the Premier League match-up against Sanchez and as such Conte would be advised to remove the veteran from the responsibility of trying to shackle the Chilean firecracker.
With Marcos Alonso signed on transfer deadline day to offer a viable option on the left-side of the Blues side, regardless of whether it is a three or four-man defence, the Spaniard should play at the Emirates Stadium.
This would allow compatriot Cesar Azpilicueta to revert to his natural position on the right, with the former Marseille full-back more equipped to attempt to thwart Sanchez.
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Ivanovic’s future in the Chelsea starting XI is rightly being questioned, but the eastern European enforcer looks more suited to a centre-half role for the Premier League side – especially should Conte switch to the 3-5-2 formation that served him so well at Juventus.
If the Serb is left to face Sanchez at the Emirates Stadium, the visitors could be exposed by the South American’s pace and movement – similar to what happened when Manchester United fielded Matteo Darmian at right-back in Arsenal’s 3-0 win over their Premier League rivals in the second half of last season.