Tuesday, 3 January 2012

An Assessment of Chelsea..

In his debut article for The Football Front, Chinmay Pandya evaluates Chelsea’s tactics in the first half of the Premier League season.

Chelsea’s new year could not have been worse as the blues greet it with a yet another disastrous defeat at home. Critics will not fail to point out the frailties at the back or the impotency in the final third.

Firstly, why are Chelsea impotent in attack?

In the 4-3-3 system, Mata usually drifts inside during the build up which means Cole turns into the left winger and the whole defence has to shuffle accordingly and the DM has to cover for the missing defender and also ensure that the ball is spread around well (which is overburdening especially for someone like Romeu who’s still young). Meireles and Juan Mata’s threats are almost nullified because they’re blanketed by the opposition midfield. If the DM fails to do his job, and Chelsea are caught on the break gaping holes appear in the midfield which was evident against Villa. There were moments when Mata and Sturridge were seen next to each other and when the ball was played into the box, there was no one on the left hand side to receive it.

For the opposition it makes it painfully easy to defend against, as any space Sturridge may create would be killed by Mata who brings more defenders over to him. To sum up, the tactics were quite narrow because of the tendency of the wide men to cut inside and congest the midfield forcing Chelsea to build attacks from the wings. Opposition usually know that's it's only the full backs to worry about in the wide areas.

So this makes it obvious that the 4-2-3-1 system fares better with a left winger in Malouda and with Mata playing through the center which also increases supply to the striker. Even the frailties at the back will reduce because of the balance that is created. Indeed, there may be a lot of theories to describe the impotency in attack, the one described above is just one of them.

As far as the frailties at the back are considered, the whole system goes together. Chelsea have averaged 0.21 clean sheets per match in the premier league and have conceded 1.6 goals per match at home. Which is staggering and but a lot better compared to the 0.89 goals conceded away from home this season. The mere difference being the counter attacking system preferred away from home, is that it is more defensively focused and Chelsea adopt a deeper defensive line. And the opposite system which is used at home is far more attacking and Chelsea play a higher defensive line. The effectiveness of the two tactics are evident in Chelsea’s home and away record in the Premier League this season.















Goals scored



Goals conceded






If Chelsea struggle to develop a consistent system and strategy, it will inevitably lead to Chelsea failing to make it into the top 4 this season.

Furthermore, financial difficulties could arise and with the Financial Fair Play rules coming into play from next season, one asks the question could all of this add up and create a recipe for the perfect disaster at Chelsea? We’ll have to wait and see.

AVB is a talented manager to find the solutions to Chelsea’s problems. But the biggest question is will he be given time?

This article was written by Chinmay Pandya, you can find his work at http://nimblefootwork.blog.com/ and you can follow him on Twitter: @_thesoccerist

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