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Chelsea's problem is deeper than changing formation

The formation Chelsea need to play has become a hot topic on social media lately, after a resounding win against Tottenham Hotspur with 3-...

The formation Chelsea need to play has become a hot topic on social media lately, after a resounding win against Tottenham Hotspur with 3-4-3, followed by a dreadful first half against Southampton with the same formation and a not so good second half with 4-2-3-1.

I have told whoever cared to listen that formation is overrated in football, because you can see 4-3-3 on paper but the application is 4-1-4-1 or 4-2-3-1 and so on. Don't get me wrong, the formation is the foundation but the building on the foundation is what matters.

Looking at Chelsea's latest defeat against Southampton at Stamford Bridge, I didn't agree that 3-4-3 was the reason why we were poor, rather the application, what the players were doing in the same formation. Of course, players have different characteristics and that's makes a difference in applying whatever formation a manager wants his team to play.

For Chelsea, we had Emerson as a wing-back, but he does not create the same overload, penetrating runs and width one might expect from Alonso. Hudson-Odoi couldn't perform like Mount did against Spurs. Callum couldn't press, split the centre-backs which I thought was highly needed in the game.

It goes without saying that at that point, the fundamental was lacking, the team's makeup was incomplete or close to it, especially facing a team that plays with two banks of four in a 4-4-2. This setup has been problematic for Chelsea. West Ham, Everton, Bournemouth and Southampton have defeated us in recent matches playing with flat, not diamond 4-4-2. So, why do we do so badly against this formation?

Flat 4-4-2 is a very effective formation when it's well done but most coaches don't use it because it's counter-productive if you want to dominate and move the ball around. The players won't be able to form triangles to pass effectively. However, it's another story when you want to defend with it. It gives a manager the opportunity to play out-and-out wingers who turn into full-backs when defending and the midfielders shield the centre-backs. There is a reason why we have struggled against this formation.

Against Southampton, fans blamed 3-4-3 for the lackluster first-half performance but the second wasn't much better, we conceded chances and couldn't score, but in the first half we conceded fewer chances and still couldn't score.

If we don't solve the flat 4-4-2 puzzle, then no formation can help us. It's simple. I can assure you that we would've struggled against Tottenham if they played with flat 4-4-2. So, if the formation isn't the problem, what is the problem?

THE APPLICATION; Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has failed to solve this puzzle, but it's just a matter of doing ugly things to match your opponent. People complain that Liverpool have become less entertaining, it's because they adapt their game to match the opponent on the day.

How do we do that? In Liverpool's case, they have wingers who play inverted, that's inside like forwards, and they create something like a 4-4-2 because when they are defending the defend with 8 and leave two wingers upfront or one winger and one forward. They always make sure the way bodies to split centre-backs on the counter. And find them with long balls or three quarter crosses. Yes, long balls, something we don't alot. It's ugly but effective.

For Chelsea, when facing a flat 4-4-2, we should do like Liverpool but the problem is, we don't have wingers with that characteristics, except Pulisic, so even if we do that, it will be very predictable. The second option is to go flat 4-4-2 or create 4-4-2 when we are attacking in 4-3-3 formation like Liverpool. It means we need two players upfront, we can go with Tammy Abraham and Mitchy Batshuayi or Abraham and Mount or Abraham and Pulisic, we most create extra outlet because it's not enough at the moment.

Like I said in the beginning, the formation you start with isn't the problem but your application. We haven't applied it well to break down flat 4-4-2 defence.

Written by: Vince(@blue_footy)

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