Signs From The Bridge-The Chelsea Preview

Nitish Mhalgi


Another new manager in the dug-out, with almost the same crop of players again trusted to win the silver-wares that Roman so craves.Chelsea may be entering the new season with a brand-new coach and mentality, but there’s still a strange familiarity in the air. The management may have changed, but the core of the team is still the same. It was the same, when Ancelotti began 2 years ago, or Scolari a year before that. The much talked-about rebuilding of the ageing squad is still not happening.Whether Chelsea’s Old Guard still have it in them to take the team to glory again for one final year, only Time will tell.But, what are the likely options Chelsea will have this upcoming season, let’s have a closer look.

 4-3-3 : The Conventional One

Despite all the rumours, Chelsea are still far from signing Luka Modric. With Javier Pastore having gone to PSG, there’re no signs of a new creative play-maker in sight. So unless Villas Boas decides to hone Josh McEachran for that coveted role, Chelsea are likely to stick to the 4-3-3 formation this season. Oriol Romeu, the new recruit from Barca, is likely to challenge Jon Obi Mikel for the holding midfielder’s role, with Lampard and most likely, Ramires completing the midfield. AVB is likely to choose either Drogba or Torres, rather than both.But, with Sturridge looking in top form, on which flank the Chelsea boss decides to play him, will decide who between Anelka and Malouda gets starts.No signs of changes in defense look imminent so far.

                                                  Torres/Drogba
               Malouda                                                              Sturridge




                      Lampard                                                Ramires
                                                         Mikel




   Cole                        Terry                           David Luiz              Ivanovic


                                         

 4-1-2-1-2 : The Midfield “Diamond”

First used by Carlo Ancelotti in recent times in English football, the Diamond formation did prove to be successful for Chelsea.What’s more, this is Chelsea’s best chance to make the Drogba-Torres partnership work. Carlo used it brilliantly, when similar doubts had been raised about Drogba-Anelka pairing.Sturridge could be given the free-roaming role at the tip of the diamond, but Yossi Benayoun seems tailor-made for ths role.The major issue for Chelsea would be to accommodate Lampard in this formation, as playing him on the left-wing deprives them of a natural winger,thereby leaving Ashley Cole to run the entire left side of the pitch.But even if only for the sake of Drogba-Torres pairing, trust AVB to experiment with this often, possibly against mid-table oppositions.

                                        Torres               Drogba
                                                  
                             
                                                   Benayoun


                       Lampard                                              Ramires


                                                       Mikel




   Cole                        Terry                           David Luiz              Ivanovic

4-2-3-1 : A different approach
In an approach totally different from what Chelsea have followed in recent times, Villas Boas can use either Lampard or Josh McEachran in a deep-lying play-maker’s role, the kind of which Xavi or Andrea Pirlo play for their clubs. Oriol Romeu can sit as a “Sweeper” in front of the back four, with Ashley Cole and presumably Branislav Ivanovic being given license to bomb forward.It’s another shot at making the coveted Striker Partnership work.Lampard and Benayoun can both play together in this system, while Modric can easily fit in the system too,if he does sign up.Either Sturridge or Malouda make up the left side of he midfield. 

                                                       Torres/Drogba




                          Malouda                       Benayoun                   Sturridge


                                                 McEachran
                                                                       Romeu
                         
                                                     
              Cole                        Terry                             David Luiz            Ivanovic

With the embarrassment of riches Chelsea have got in striking department, Anelka and Kalou are going to find it much harder to get starts, especially if Sturridge continues to be in top form.Best chance for the next imminent arrival, Romelu Lukaku seems to be January-February, when Drogba and co leave for African Cup of Nations. Whether Chelsea can get Modric will have a big impact on AVB’s tactical set-up, although failing to get Modric might be a blessing in disguise, as it offers Josh McEachran a much more prominent role for the upcoming season.
In the end, whatever may be the tactics Villas Boas employs, including promoting the young players, he will have to produce the silverware right from the start. Carlo Ancelotti had to go, for finishing Second in one of the most competitive leagues in the world. Villas Boas might be Chelsea’s best bet at the moment, but that’s no reason for him to relax the slightest. There’s a glimmer of Sunshine in the skies of West London now, but it’ll take hell lot of work to make all the clouds part.


-Nitish Mhalgi
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