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Opinion: Chelsea must adapt to help their strikers

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Chelsea’s 2-1 League Cup defeat to Sunderland on Tuesday served as another example of the proflagacy currently shown by the Blues strike force.

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.

Benitez defends Torres af 012 Opinion: Chelsea must adapt to help their strikers

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… 

Comments (5)

  1. Hi Tom, you have knocked the nail on the head concerning why Chelsea has been getting everything wrong since the start of the season. I hope Morinho reads your analysis or if possible, please send your article to him. I have been saying what you have explained time and time again but it seem I was the only one seeing the problem before I stormed into your article. There is no way three top strikers in the caliber of Eto’o, Torres and Ba can at the same time malfunction in a top team any where in the world if the problem does not come from system of play. To add to your comments, I think the Chelsea midfield players need to play with the strikers like a team rather trying too hard to demonstrate individual talent. Hazard, Oscar and William are the major problems here – These three try to hard to prove their talent to the Chelsea supporters and strikers when they play rather than play collective football for the team. The Sunderland, crystal palace and Stock games were typical examples of games the midfielders messed up. I am surprised so many soccer-news writers spend so much emphasis on a single chance a striker might missed to score in a game forgetting to analyse the fact that was the only chance the striker was lucky to have the ball in the entire 90min of play. I am very certain that if any of those strikers move out to teams like Liverpool, Arsenal, Dortmund or Bayern they will flourish to their rightful potentials. In conclusion, I will like to think that Morinho and his coaching team should have the full blame for they were supposed to have picked up the problem that you have nicely explained.

  2. I like the formation, it clearly supports an all out attacking intent. However, it has the tendency to be too light in the middle, oscar is fantastic going forward in the CM role, but when faced with stronger attacking midfielders from the opponent, he will buck down, especially when Ramirez goes forward, just like a game against Mancity, toure and fernadinho will completely overrun them. That’s d challenge in the EPL. I would suggest David Luis takes d CM role, and oscar alternates with Willian upfront. Mata can switch with oscar for the number 10 role during the game.

  3. Nzeobi, I agree with your point about stronger midfields, and that my midfield is a little lightweight! With the January window coming up however, Mourinho could sort it with the purchase of a stronger, more physical CM.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of David Luiz, but I know full well that Mourinho doesn’t trust him enough in the midfield. It’s unfortunate, but we have to accept it.

  4. Ernie, I have been thinking that Chelsea could perhaps do with signing a ‘second striker’. With the communication at a low point at the moment, the likes of Torres and Eto’o could benefit from an Eidur Gudjohnsen type, or Gianfranco Zola type giving them consistent support.
    What do you think?

  5. Hazard is very brilliant but i can see some weakness when he gets the ball. He tends to hold the ball too much. Am sure if he can pass the ball earlier as he runs forward then we could have a lot of goals.