Chelsea v West Ham
Monday 20:00, Sky Sports 1
Match Odds: Chelsea 1.684/6, West Ham 6.05/1, The Draw 4.216/5
Antonio Conte starts his Chelsea reign in the first Monday night fixture of the season - and Slaven Bilic's West Ham could prove tough opposition, considering their habit of producing excellent counter-attacking performances away at the big boys last season.
Conte experimented with formations throughout pre-season, and while it seemed his intention was to play a 4-4-2 system this season, he appears to have moved back to the 4-3-3 shape Chelsea have played, on and off, for over a decade.
The 4-4-2 simply didn't suit Chelsea's star attackers: Eden Hazard needs to be high on the left, Cesc Fabregas needs freedom to push forward from midfield, Diego Costa works better when given the width of the field to cover himself. The 4-3-3 makes more sense, and Chelsea should start that way this weekend. Conte will need to find his optimum shape quickly if Chelsea are to launch a serious title bid - they're 7.06/1 to win the league this season.
Only one new signing is likely to feature: N'Golo Kante, who will probably play a slightly deeper role than he played at Leicester, protecting the defence in the manner of Claude Makelele. The backline itself should be familiar: Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, John Terry and Cesar Azpilicueta.
Hazard will start high on the left, with Willian tucking in slightly from the opposite flank. The real question mark is about the central midfield positions, where it appears Nemanja Matic and Oscar could start over Fabregas, who Conte has concerns about in a tactical sense. That would be a significant blow to the Spaniard, and would underline the fact Conte wants discipline rather than flair from his central midfield. It could even push Fabregas towards the exit door.
Bilic will have to cope without star man Dimitri Payet, still not match-fit after reaching the final of Euro 2016. His side looks vulnerable at full-back: with Aaron Cresswell out injured, young French left-back Arthur Masuaku is likely to start. A speedy, energetic youngster, he should be capable of keeping pace with Willian, but his positional qualities are questionable. The same could be said of Michail Antonio on the opposite flank, who impressed last season when higher up the pitch, but doesn't appear a natural right-back.
The three-man midfield looks very disciplined. Havard Nordtveit was recruited from Borussia Monchengladbach in the summer and holds a solid position ahead of the defence, with Cheikhou Kouyate providing extra strength and sporadic bursts into attack, and Mark Noble likely to dictate the passing.
Andy Carroll is set to start upfront with support from Sofiane Feghouli, recruited from Valencia to play an energetic role on the right, while Andre Ayew should come straight into the side on the left, following his move from Swansea. The front three offers a mixture of energy, speed and aerial power, and it remains to be seen what type of defensive line Chelsea hold - whether Conte asks them to sit deep, or push up the pitch.
It feels like this could be a relatively cautious game, however. The nature of the midfield trios suggest they'll play in front of one another rather than looking to penetrate, and with the exception of Oscar, disappointing over the past couple of seasons, there's an obvious lack of an outright playmaker without Fabregas and Payet.