ENGLAND - Antonio Conte gets into the thick of things in training as Chelsea prepare for season-opener against Burnley
Antonio Conte looks raring to go as he plans to mastermind Chelsea's Premier League title defence ahead of their season opener against Burnley on Saturday.
The Blues romped to a spectacular triumph in May, winning a record 30 of their 38 matches in the Italian's first season.
And despite losing the traditional curtain-raising Community Shield on penalties against Arsenal, Conte's side are among the favourites to take the crown this year.
Chelsea took to their Cobham training ground on Thursday, two days ahead of hosting Sean Dyche's Clarets at Stamford Bridge.
Key to their success last year was Conte's reversion to the 3-4-3 system at half-time during a 3-0 defeat by Arsenal in September last year.
The Blues proceeded to embark on a 13-match winning streak after the switch, which saw Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso star as full-backs with Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta part of a back three.
Conte's plans for the new season have been up in the air following the arrival of Antonio Rudiger in a £31million deal from Roma last month.
The German could well be handed a Premier League debut on Saturday if Conte's training session on Thursday is anything to go by.
The new boy wore a bib alongside fellow defenders Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill and Alonso in training, perhaps hinting at Conte's plans for Burnley.
But the Italian boss has cut a troubled figure this summer after failing to land his top transfer targets.
The Blues have struggled in pre-season, winning just once against Arsenal while losing to Inter Milan and Bayern Munich.
They also fell to defeat on penalties against the Gunners in the Community Shield at Wembley on Sunday.
Chelsea were heavily linked with Romelu Lukaku before he joined Manchester United, who also took Nemanja Matic from Stamford Bridge for £40million, while the Blues have so far failed to prise Alex Sandro away from Juventus.
'It’s very important to try to find the right solution, to try to improve the squad,' Conte said this week at the Premier League launch.
Source: Daily Mail (UK)