Opinion: Chelsea must adapt to help their strikers
Jose Mourinho seems to be at his wits end with his forward line, who have looked devoid of attacking intent for as long as the mind can remember.
Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba, on paper, looks a formidable front-line. In their pomp, Torres was arguably the best striker in the Premier League; Eto’o was the most electric forward in the world; and Demba Ba was a vibrant attacking quantity, scoring goals for fun in the English top flight.
Now, with a measly five goals between them, they are putting Chelsea’s Premier League dreams at serious risk.
But although the Blues’ strikers have been getting almost all of the criticism; the remedy lies a little further back, found in an area where most would not bother looking.
Chelsea’s star studded midfield, consisting of the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Ramires, is not working. The attacking midfield roster may be the envy of the Premier League, but for all their individual brilliance, there is no real link to the lone frontman.
The defeat to Sunderland once more flagged up this glaring issue. Communication is in short supply, as Eto’o helplessly ran back and forth, dying for the killer pass that never came.
The Cameroonian looks more like scoring from his pressuring of goalkeepers than from an assist from Chelsea’s creative hub.
Indeed, his best chance came from a defensive error which gifted him a rare sight at goal. His ensuing miss was poor, but it will further detract from the real issue at the Bridge.
Going further back, it is clear that for all Chelsea’s attacking wealth, they are in dire need of deep-lying playmakers. Frank Lampard, at the ripe age of 35, is the Blues’ only creative option from the centre. Ramires is a bustling box-to-box man, while Mikel’s purpose has been the subject of debate for years.
This all equates to an imbalance of play, with no real bridges between the roles in the side. A change in formation is needed, even before Chelsea can get their teeth into the upcoming January transfer window.
A more structured 4-4-1-1 formation should be experimented with. Oscar has such an abundance of quality in his locker, so much so that I believe he is able to fill the central midfield role alongside a more defensively positioned Ramires.
Two of the attacking mids can be deployed on the flanks, with Hazard on the left and Mata on the right. The impressive Willian should be afforded more of a free role in the number 10 spot, closely shadowing either Torres or Eto’o.
With a crucial game up next for the Blues against Arsenal, this experimentation may have to wait until another day. The Blues faithful will be praying their recent troubles in front of goal doesn’t continue to haunt them against the Gunners.
What do you think? Would a change in formation solve the striker crisis at the Bridge? Let me know in the comments below…