With Nathan Ake returning to Chelsea, who is in danger of the Conte axe?

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte

The defender was recalled from his loan spell with AFC Bournemouth on Sunday.

Antonio Conte's move to bring back Nathan Ake from his loan spell at Bournemouth was perhaps a move that surprised many, on both sides of the agreement.

Following Chelsea's first loss in fourteen games however, does the Italian see the versatile Dutch defender as another stage of his masterplan to win back to Premier League trophy?

Bournemouth's Nathan Ake celebrates scoring their first goalBournemouth's Nathan Ake celebrates scoring their first goal

Scoring three goals, with three clean sheets also this term, the 21 year-old has provided a key element for Eddie Howe's side since November.

The Blues' defensive resilience finally cracked against Tottenham Hotspur last week. Of course their first loss since versus Arsenal at the Emirates could merely be a blip, but in similar fashion to how Conte stumbled on to a winning formula, will the Italian now rest on his laurels?

For Ake there are a host of roles to be grabbed at. Perhaps most likely is Marcos Alonso's place at left wing-back. The Spaniard has provided defensive protection for his side, as well as an added attacking spice.

Chelsea's Willian comes on as a substitute to replace Marcos AlonsoChelsea's Willian comes on as a substitute to replace Marcos Alonso

Recently however, Alonso's performances have dipped, with some corners of the Chelsea fan base now calling for Nathan Ake to replace his teammate on the left.

With just two assists to show for for his last nine outings, Alonso's substitution for Willian just after the hour mark at White Hart Lane may have been telling.

With Ake a pacier alternative, his inclusion could be a intriguing option for Conte: 


The other immediate option is for Ake to take up a more role as one of three centre-backs.

On the right of midfield, Victor Moses has no attacking spoils to show in the last seven, but with the Nigerian a pivotal cog in the Conte system, might Nathan Ake provide more greater balance on the left of defence, with Cesar Azpilicueta pushing further forward?

Antonio Conte could also switch back to a flat back four, but with questions persisting about David Luiz in that formation, that ploy would be an unlikely one.

Nathan Ake took up a left centre-back position for The Cherries and as a mobile asset, could push Chelsea out from defence when needed.

Luiz and Gary Cahill will then keep their usual spots, leaving Marcos Alonso out in the cold once more.

Despite the loss to Spurs, Chelsea still sit in a handsome spot in the Premier League table, five points clear of the chasing pack. Antonio Conte will not rush into any quick conclusions but nevertheless, Nathan Ake's return to the fold raises some interesting possibilities.

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