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Chelsea midfield; the hidden problem

Chelsea's midfield has been one of the shining lights of this season. The midfielders have produced a series of top performances betwe...

Chelsea's midfield has been one of the shining lights of this season. The midfielders have produced a series of top performances between them. Jorginho looks reborn, Mount is on five league goals, Kante came back and is also scoring goals, even Kovacic, who didn't score a goal last season for Chelsea even managed to score two goals in two matches.

So, what is wrong with our midfield this season? Why are we leaking goals? Why are we not solid like last season? These questions deserve answers. Giving chances to opposition starts from midfield block, if it's a soft block, the backup block which is the defense won't be able to hold on for long, and will eventually crack and collapse.

I attribute this problem to freedom of expression that our midfielders enjoy today, and the players love it, according to our midfielder of the season so far, Mateo Kovacic.

"Lampard gives me more freedom and I can take the ball and go forward. I feel good. I have a good connection with the coach and all the team. We can change positions. We are aggressive. We are doing well but it is only one month with the coach, so we can improve" Kovacic said in August.

Let me go back to last season under Maurizio Sarri. The Italian used positional setup for the midfielders, he didn't give them freedom, rather he gave everyone role to play, zone to take care of, set them up to mind their business, and we were more solid and gave teams little or no shots on target. After one of the games Chelsea lost last season (against Tottenham) Sarri called out Ngolo Kante for “losing the position” and “attacking too much" in the 3-1 defeat to Spurs.

An unhappy Maurizio Sarri said: "I don’t want Kante in this position. Kante in the last match wanted to solve the match after the first 15 minutes, but in the wrong way. He lost the position, he attacked too much the other box. Kante has to stay near to Jorginho, especially when the ball is on the other side."

Last season, Chelsea had 15 clean sheets, this season, one of the reasons why Chelsea struggle defensively is because of the freedom Frank gave the midfielders. He let them express themselves and play well, but they ultimately lack discipline, especially when the team is in trouble against better opponents. Most coaches cage players for a reason. They give midfielders specific roles. The Italians are more into this and it makes their teams more solid and organized. What we see at Chelsea today is midfielders moving out of their zone with unlimited freedom, which is good because it makes us unpredictable.

But the question is, are we doing it in the right way? Make no mistake, it works but players need to understand themselves better, know each other's movement, understand how they think and be ready to cover each other. Which is simply one of the reasons why we must run hard and work hard to win games. If that work rate drops, the players will look all over the place.

However, we are over-doing the freedom thing at the moment. I certainly love watching players move freely, trespass, but I don't like watching midfielders leave holes in front of the back four, lose their markers or get caught in no man's land.

But there is balance to this. Most successful managers only afford attacking players, including attacking midfielders freedom to operate but deny the defenders and defensive midfielders such liberty. I think it's the way to go, Jorginho and Kante should play positional in a pivot while Kovacic or Mason Mount enjoys the freedom with the strikers. I said this because I am not a fan of Kante as a 10, Kovacic is more creative than him, and Kante's best position is box to box.

Chelsea need to go back to basics, make themselves hard to beat again. That way clean sheets and more three points will return to Stamford Bridge.


Written by: Vince(@blue_footy)
Photo credit: Sportskeeda


5 comments

  1. I see alot of sense in this article but I still think that the crop of defenders at Chelsea right now can't defend, therefore it would make sense to play Kante in front of them and move Jorginho little forward that is if not dropping him and Kova as no 10. The way Lampard wants his team to play is perfect with intelligent defenders which we don't have right now.

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  2. The fact but we still need experience defenders

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  3. I agree with you bro your article makes sense

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