Monday, June 27, 2022

Breaking Down 4 Formations Lampard Could Use With All The New Additions In The Chelsea Squad

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Nikhil Vinodh
Nikhil has been an avid Chelsea fan for as long as the concept of time has existed and rumours say that he even bleeds blue. Having lived in the UK for 3 years, Nikhil is said to have an excellent understanding of the atmosphere surrounding the English game. His role model is the greatest manager of all time - Jose Mourinho.

Premier League giants Chelsea have been the most active team of the transfer window so far, and a lot of that could be down to their low rate of spending over the last few seasons. Not just that, but the sales of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid and Alvaro Morata to Atletico Madrid earned them a lot more money than expected. Lampard was quick to understand the situation they were in and has been making excellent strides towards making the Pensioners a competitive team again during the up month campaign.

The biggest of all the additions is that of German sensation Kai Havertz, who despite being just 21, has already been tipped to greatness by many. The kind of teams that were looking at the former Bayer Leverkusen man shows the quality he’s got, and securing his signature must be described as a monstrous coup for the London club. Another one of the more important signings they’ve made is the free acquisition of Brazilian veteran Thiago Silva. The 35-year-old has signed a two-year deal with the Blues, thereby adding a certain degree of security and experience to the back-line.

Four Formations Lampard Can Use At Chelsea Next Season - Werner in action
Chelsea’s German striker Timo Werner is pictured during the pre-season friendly football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on August 29, 2020. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

The other position of concern for Chelsea last season was at left-back and Lampard has secured the signature of his primary target in the role as well – former Leicester City ace Ben Chilwell. The Englishman arrives with a lofty reputation in the Premier League, and he will surely be hoping to trump Marcos Alonso and Emerson to the starting spot within a few weeks. Two attack-minded signatures have been secured by the Blues as well – Timo Werner from Leipzig and Hakim Ziyech from Ajax. The duo will be responsible for adding creativity as well as better finishing to the attack-line.

How Did Chelsea’s Last Season Play Out?

The 19/20 campaign certainly wouldn’t have been the most memorable one for a Chelsea fan, as they ended the season without a single piece of silverware to show for their efforts. Chelsea lost the finals of both the FA Cup and the UEFA Super Cup, while they eventually finished below Manchester United on the table in fourth place. Although that was enough to secure Champions League football, Lampard’s ambitions indicated that more could’ve been achieved. Goals were never a problem for Chelsea, as their undoing mostly occurred due to a dire defensive fragility. They finished the season with the worst defensive record in the top half of the table, and that will need to change if things are to improve at Stamford Bridge.

Let’s Take A Look At Four Formations Lampard Can Use At Chelsea Next Season:

Four Formations Lampard Can Use At Chelsea Next Season

3-4-3

This formation uses three centre-halves at the heart of the defence and was Lampard’s go-to system in the latter stages of the last campaign. Possibly utilised because he realised their defensive weaknesses, it must be conceded that the presence of an extra man didn’t do too much to help their cause. The concession of goals didn’t just stop because they shifted to three at the back, but it did offer a small degree of added comfort to the centre-halves. The importance of having at least a couple of passing options at all times cannot be underplayed though.

This system would also warrant the use of wing-backs rather than full-backs down the wide areas. This means that Marcos Alonso would likely be preferred to Ben Chilwell down the left flank. Furthermore, the two-man midfield pairing will be drowned with both attacking and defensive responsibilities. N’Golo Kante is the one Chelsea midfielder capable of being deployed in any formation, which means that none of their more attack-minded midfielders can be used to partner up with him.

Four Formations Lampard Can Use At Chelsea Next Season - Ziyech in action
Chelsea’s Moroccan midfielder Hakim Ziyech (C) runs with the ball during the pre-season friendly football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on August 29, 2020. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

The likes of Kai Havertz and Ruben Loftus-Cheek would struggle with the defensive duties, meaning that Kovacic and Kante have to be the midfield duo if this formation is to be used effectively. In attack though, the extra width provided by the full-backs would allow the two wide attackers the opportunity to drop narrow and offer the striker with more direct support in the box. The likes of Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech will be able to come into the game a lot more, but starting without a tall target man who can hold the ball up could become an issue.

4-3-3

The 4-3-3 setup is one of the most widely utilised formations in all of world football and with good reason. Not only does it offer a good amount of balance across all the positions, but it also provides the manager with an added degree of versatility as well as manoeuvrability. There are several different variations of this formation, with most of the changes happening in the midfield area. In terms of defence and attack though, the setups largely remain identical.

Four Formations Lampard Can Use At Chelsea Next Season - Kante in action
Chelsea’s French midfielder N’Golo Kante runs with the ball as socially distanced fans watch from the stands during the pre-season friendly football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on August 29, 2020. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

The four-man back-line would be a concern for Lampard going into the opening game, as even with Thiago Silva’s presence, there’s every chance that the horrors from last season carry on. The likes of Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen don’t look overly comfortable in a back-four, while Antonio Rudiger generally had an uncharacteristically poor season. Ben Chilwell will be much more comfortable operating in a four-man back-line, as it’s the position that he usually took up while playing for Leicester City. It would also provide Lampard with a choice at right-back depending on the situation as well – Reece James or Cesar Azpilicueta.

The attack-line would be a pretty straightforward affair too, with one main striker and two wingers for added support. With the extra help that sure to come in from midfield as well, this is a formation that doesn’t necessarily require a physical striker. Werner could be utilised just as effectively by Lampard, as there would be ample opportunities for the Blues to work through the centre and for the German to time runs in behind. Hakim Ziyech linking up with James or Azpilicueta down that side will be a joy to witness, while Ben Chilwell’s potential combination with Pulisic would be one to watch out for as well.

4-3-3 (Double Pivot)

One of the variants of the 4-3-3 would see Lampard starting the match with a two-man pivot. N’Golo Kante could be partnered by one of Jorginho or Mateo Kovacic in the role, where the pairing will be responsible for ensuring that the ball keeps moving in the direction that’s required. Although it could be argued that Kovacic isn’t a holding midfielder, his hesitance to push too far forward is a clear indicator of the instructions that’s been issued to him by the manager.

The Croatian isn’t afraid to get on the ball and drive forward, but that takes nothing away from the fact that he’s essentially responsible for linking up play and bringing attackers into the game. This formation would also see one attack-minded midfielder starting the tie, and that role was, more often than not, filled by Mason Mount last season. Although Kovacic and Mount did start in the same position on paper, their roles were entirely different. Havertz has been brought in as a versatile midfielder, which means that he could compete for either of these roles.

4-3-3 (Double 8s)

This is a setup that Lampard seemed to turn to when things weren’t going their way in a match. The easiest way to achieve this last season was to take off Mateo Kovacic and replace him with the more direct presence of Ross Barkley. N’Golo Kante would continue as the holding midfielder, with Mount and Barkley in the advanced role offering direct support to the attackers. This season though, with the changes that have been made at Stamford Bridge, Havertz would almost certainly be preferred to Barkley.

The combination of Mason Mount and Kai Havertz as the two Chelsea number 8s could end up paying massive dividends for the Blues. As exciting as it does sound in an attacking sense, it must be conceded that defensive fragility could become an issue again. Kante is a combative midfielder who likes to put himself about, and unless he gets help from the two in front of him, there’s every chance that Chelsea fall back into last season’s bad defensive habits. Whether or not Thiago Silva can kick on with life in England will have a part to play in this as well.

4-4-2

The classic 4-4-2 isn’t a formation that’s widely used anymore, with Burnley and occasionally Everton the only sides that turn to it. The use of two strikers paired up together aims to bring the best out of both of them, which means that they cannot have similar skill-sets. Using one target-man with another with a more direct approach towards goalscoring would be the ideal combination. In that case, this formation could be custom-built for the Blues’ attacking roster this time around. Werner’s explosive pace and dribbling skills will be of utmost importance, and using one of either Giroud or Abraham alongside him could yield deadly results.

The problem area in this formation though would be the midfield. With the two wingers essentially a part of the midfield line, Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic would likely get flooded with defensive responsibilities. The final third would be the two strikers’ area, which means that the amount of depth that’s available to them would increase. Despite this, utilising that space could see them get caught out on the counter. Furthermore, as was with the 3-4-3 formation, playing Kante alongside a more attack-minded midfielder could end up being defensive suicide.

Four Formations Lampard Can Use At Chelsea Next Season - Werner celebrates
Chelsea’s German striker Timo Werner (L) celebrates with Chelsea’s English midfielder Callum Hudson-Odoi (R) after scoring the opening goal of the pre-season friendly football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on August 29, 2020. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

The back-line can remain the same as previously discussed for this setup, but the one main difference will be the lack of attacking involvement the full-backs have. With the wingers operating out of a much deeper role, overlapping full-backs would leave the Blues’ back-line completely defenceless. There will be various occasions where Lampard can use this formation though, as it would likely bring the best out of Timo Werner in the attack. The German has produced some of the best football of his career so far when deployed in a front-two, and considering how good Giroud is at holding the ball up, the pair of them could flourish alongside each other.

The Verdict

All four of the formations mentioned above have their own benefits, but considering the squad that is available to Lampard now, the ideal setup would be the 4-3-3. Whether or not they start with two pivots or two 8s would likely depend on the challenge they face, with the former expected during the opening weekend clash against Brighton. With Ben Chilwell and Hakim Ziyech out injured, and Thiago Silva only recently reporting for training, Lampard’s selection woes won’t be in full effect now. Things are certainly on the up at Stamford Bridge, and if they’re able to get off to the right start, then there’s no reason why Lampard’s men can’t challenge for the league title at the end of the season.

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