Antonio Conte says that Chelsea’s system would not be as effective without Cesar Azpilicueta and Victor Moses.
The Blues are on course for a second Premier League title in three years under Conte, who was appointed manager in the summer.
They sit top of the table, enjoying a ten-point gap over nearest challengers Tottenham, with their form since changing formations to a three-man defence paying dividends.
Chelsea have lost just once in the Premier League since switching to the formation in September, and the manager has reserved praise for two players in particular.
“This system (3-5-2) was in my mind when we planned the season with the club,” said the Italian.
“We have two systems: 4-2-4 and 3-4-3. When I switched this system, I felt it was a good fit for our players. We don’t lose offensively but we are better defensively.
“We found players not to adapt but to play in different roles compared to the past. Like Moses and Azpi – he’s incredible in this new role. He is one of the best in the world in this role.
“Moses too. To run for the whole game with this quality is fantastic.”