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Could Southampton's deadly trio expose Chelsea's midfield?

  • Chelsea face Southampton at Stamford Bridge on Sunday off the back of a disappointing defeat in the Champions League away to Basel and some indifferent form in the Premier League with just two wins in their last four games. Part of Chelsea’s problem is, whether they line up as a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3-, their central [...]The post
Squawka News
SENIOR ANALYST
Modified 20 Mar 2019, 14:54 IST

Southampton v Hull City - Barclays Premier League

Chelsea face Southampton at Stamford Bridge on Sunday off the back of a disappointing defeat in the Champions League away to Basel and some indifferent form in the Premier League with just two wins in their last four games.

Part of Chelsea’s problem is, whether they line up as a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3-, their central midfielders are inept at defending allowing their opponents to be a real goal threat.

Against Basel, John Obi Mikel only attempted one tackle. Should the player supposedly anchoring his side’s midfield only get involved in just one tackle? He also made no interceptions.

Ramires only won 50% of his tackles, again he hardly attempted any, just two in total. Frank Lampard, the more attacking of the trio, although still with defensive duties to fulfil, did not attempt a single tackle nor make a single interception.

This is indicative of how the Chelsea midfielders have performed this season in the defensive department. Mikel, in his seven games, has attempted 19 tackles and won just eight while winning 43% of headers. Ramires has been even worse. In 12 games the Brazil international he has gone in for 74 tackles and has won a poor 41%. Frank Lampard is the worst of the three with an appalling 41% success rate when it comes to tackling.

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This inability, and perhaps unwillingness, as evidenced by the Basel games, to tackle has been causing them problems all season and could well cause them more problems against Southampton’s exciting and lively attacking players.

Southampton are prime to exploit this weakness. Mauricio Pochettino’s high pressing and quick to close down style of play will put these central midfield players of Chelsea’s under real pressure and England internationals James Ward-Prowse (ok, an under 21), Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez will be lively throughout.

The Heat Maps from Southampton’s 4-1 hammering of Hull City shows that the trio like to move around the pitch and switch positions. Ward Prowse spent most of his time in his designated right side but often drifted in to the middle and on occasion swapped to the left.

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Jay Rodriguez did something similar but in reverse, starting from the left of the attacking midfield threesome while Adam Lallana was literally all over the place, roaming the space between the centre circle and penalty area and causing havoc throughout his time on the pitch.