Is Chelsea’s gameplan too predictable? Part 2
The events of the past one week at Chelsea might seem to make this article irrelevant, as I had actually intended to watch the games against Juventus and Manchester City to confirm my opinion stated in the earlier article. The match against Juventus unfolded exactly how I initially feared, which somehow strengthens the case of this article’s relevance.
So, quite unexpectedly, Robbie is gone, and Rafael Benitez is in the hot seat. Contrary to many fans’ views, it is not a bad start for Rafa. In fact, a dull game (at least on the pitch!) was exactly what Chelsea needed after the turbulent week they have had. The story could have been worse had Mancini been more attacking in his team selection. Perhaps, fearing for his own job, he went on the defensive instead, choosing a workaholic side.
Rafa employed the 4-2-3-1 again, Mikel and Ramires in the center, MAZACAR playing just behind Torres. The defense saw another set of 4 players however. But the mindset change was there for all to see. Defending was the priority, goal scoring a probability. Vindicated, with the substitution of a tiring Mikel with Oriol Romeu. A like-for-like change.
So, other than the 4-2-3-1, what else can Chelsea do?
Now that a sturdy back four is almost always certain with Rafa in charge, one of the two defensive midfielders can be sacrificed for a more attack minded player. So,
DITCH THE DOUBLE PIVOT ALTOGETHER!
This accommodates another flair player/striker along with MAZACAR. And then there is Lampard. We know he does not like to play in the double pivot, and fans do not like it as well! So in the interest of all parties, put him back into his real position, as an impact sub for one of the Holy Trinity, and we can see the Frank Lampard we all know. But what these formations do, is limit the appearances of Ramires, Mikel and Romeu as there would be a three way fight for one spot.
Here’s Alternative 1:
Note that the positions Hazard, Mata and Oscar take relative to each other depends directly on the fourth member of the quartet. Marin prefers to play out wide on the left, while Moses prefers the right. So when Marin is on the pitch, MAZACAR occupy the positions of RW, LAM and RAM, and when Moses plays, MAZACAR’s positions are LW, LAM, RAM. Hope you got the point. This can be labelled as 4-1-4-1. Or if you would like it, 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 depending on how you would classify the wide players (this would also increase probability of seeing more of fringe players like Lucas Piazon, and dare I call him one, Daniel Sturridge!).
1. Accommodates another flair player (Marin) or a direct runner (Moses).
2. Puts Lampard back in his natural position.
Disadvantage: Highly vulnerable to a quick counter attack, defensively not as solid as the 4-2-3-1.
Here, one of the defense minded midfielders is sacrificed for the additional striker in Daniel Sturridge. The Holy Trinity is retained and play in positions as they are doing right now, but they now have the luxury to feed two strikers instead of one. But they need to track back as well, as shown in the defensive shape. In the defensive arrangement, the holding player, the center backs and the full backs make a 5 man inner defensive wall as shown. The outer layer will consist of the midfield players ready to initiate a counter attack, with player like Sturridge or Hazard looking to utilize their pace.
Again, Lampard can play in his natural position.
Disadvantage: Again, vulnerable to counter attacks.
(an ultra defensive approach, suitable for holding a lead)
You may call it a triple pivot. This formation fields 3 holding midfielders, an attacking player is sacrificed. This is as close to parking the bus as you can get!
For a dogged defense of a lead, where defending is a compulsion.
Crowding out of the central areas with three holding midfielders.
Disadvantage: Offers NOTHING going forward
So, what do the Chelsea supporting readers feel about the ditching of the double pivot in search of a plan B? Will either of the above three work? Or anything else would be better?
Leave your suggestions in the comments section.