Date: 26th October 2016 at 5:20pm
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Antonio Conte is beginning to transform his Chelsea team into genuine title contenders, and has picked up some impressive results in recent weeks.

Although the Blues won their first three matches of the season, they then endured a tricky spell thanks to defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal, with the defence looking particularly shaky.

However, new boss Conte switched to a back three against Hull at the start of the month, and since then Chelsea have won three games, all without conceding a goal.

Their 4-0 victory over Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United last weekend was a real sign that Conte is getting to grips with the Premier League, and that his players are getting to grips with his system and tactics.

The Blues are fourth in the table, a point adrift of leaders Manchester City, but who has been their most creative player in their first nine Premier League matches?

Photo: Marc Atkins / Offside.

Photo: Marc Atkins / Offside.

Unsurprisingly, the 2015/16 Player of the Season Willian has picked up exactly where he left off last time out.

Although the Brazilian has not been credited with an assist in the league so far, he has created 24 chances this season, which is more than any other Chelsea player. In fact, only West Ham’s Dimitri Payet (29) and Crystal Palace’s Jason Puncheon (26) have created more in the Premier League in the first nine matches.

Willian’s importance to this Chelsea team is reflected in the fact that he averages 3.4 key passes per game, which is well clear of Eden Hazard in second, who has managed an average of 2.2 per game.

He crosses the ball significantly more than any other Chelsea player (3.1), and only N’Golo Kante has a greater pass completion rate (90.2%) than the Brazilian (89.4%) from those that have appeared regularly this season. He keeps the ball and finds teammates just as effectively as he creates opportunities.

Only Hazard (3.1), Diego Costa (3), and Oscar (2) have averaged more shots per game than the 28-year-old (1.7), so not only is he important creatively, he has also got an eye for goal. And he has found the back of the net twice so far, in the win over Burnley and the success at Hull.

Nevertheless, all of the above proves how integral he is to this Chelsea side, and we are likely to see plenty more excellent performances from the 28-year-old as the season progresses.

 
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