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An in-dept look at possible formations Chelsea can play

The 19/20 season has been a roller coaster ride for Chelsea fans, it has seen club legend Frank Lampard appointed as the new manager of the ...

The 19/20 season has been a roller coaster ride for Chelsea fans, it has seen club legend Frank Lampard appointed as the new manager of the club and seen a heavy integration of youth into the team. 

Chelsea are not used to this style of management as the last academy graduate to get integrated into the first team before this season was Captain, Leader, and Legend John Terry. This season, the club has seen the rise of exciting young players such as Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori, Reece James, Calum Hudson Odoi, Billy Gilmour, and a lot more. For a new manager like Lampard, it was a real test to try to integrate all these talented players and play them regularly. The transfer ban that Chelsea received made these new young players feel like new signings for the fans. Lampard being relatively new to management is still yet to develop a style of play that is unique to him. This being the case it was difficult for Lampard to find his best starting eleven throughout the season. He has experimented with various formations and each has brought out the best of some players in the squad. Lampard has played the 4-3-3, 4-4-2,4-2-3-1, 4-1-4-1, and the 3-4-2-1 and its many variations most notably all with different intent and style of play.

The 4-3-3

Frank Lampard’s preferred formation for the team has been the one that has been most successful this season. With a four-man defence and club captain, Cesar Azpilicueta playing at both Left-back and Right back this season has so far brought the best out of the team. Reece James has also excelled in the right-back position whenever he played this season and looks to be a mainstay in the future for Chelsea.

Emerson saw some good performances at the left-back position earlier on this season but it was brought to an abrupt stop due to his injuries. Marcos Alonso hasn’t flourished at the left-back position which is why Azpilicueta has started games in that position. The midfield of Jorginho, Kovacic, and Kante has been pretty solid this season and is easily one of the best midfielders in the league. The frontline of Tammy, Willian, and Mount/CHO has been the best under this particular formation with Tammy Abraham bagging 13 league goals this season. Mason Mount has played in the midfield and has provided Lampard with much-needed versatility with injuries to Pulisic and Ruben Loftus Cheek

The 4-4-2

This formation wasn’t used too much throughout the season, however, it was mainly used in pre-season games to test the potential partnership of Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuyahi upfront. It was also used in the UEFA Champions League for a few minutes in the game against Valencia. Although this partnership didn’t quite work out for Chelsea this season, Lampard has flirted with the idea of using this formation more often by trying to bring in a potential striking partner during the January transfer window. Chelsea weren't successful in doing so we’ll have to wait to see what this formation could bring to this team in the next season. Frank Lampard has been brave and tried out different formations during this season, proving his ability to adapt and be flexible.

The 4-1-4-1

This formation has also been widely used by Frank Lampard even though we have only played in this formation for a small amount of time, it’s been used to try to defend in games when necessary, this formation is a defensive version of the 4-3-3 and has been used across most competitions most notably in the Premier League this formation was used against the likes of Leicester, Burnley, Brighton and Bournemouth. All these games were close ones and could indicate the solid nature of this formation. This formation sees the wingers play closer to the midfield, more like LM & RM. So far, it is not been used regularly and seems more like a PLAN B or alternative for the existing formation. We’ll have to wait and see if Frank Lampard is keen on using this formation more often.

The 3-4-2-1

This formation is a modified version of the famous 3-4-3 that Chelsea used under Antonio Conte, it’s a very defensive setup that is focused on counterattacking. We’ve used this formation in our famous wins against Wolves, Spurs, and Arsenal, but in the UEFA Champions League, we haven’t been that successful with it, losing games to Valencia in the group stages and against Bayern Munich in the Round of 16. Marcos Alonso has thrived under this system under Antonio Conte and Frank Lampard this season but unfortunately, it is not possible to continue playing a certain player because one player hugely benefits from it. We haven’t scored too many goals and our current crop of players don’t necessarily fit this style of play. As talented as Reece James is, his best position is still RB and not RWB along with the injury issues that Chelsea have had this season, playing with 3 CBs could prove to be risky and impossible if we constantly have 2 CBs injured. A midfield duo of Kante and Kovacic seems necessary to play this formation given that Jorginho excels in the 4-3-3 and cannot play well in a two-man midfield. Tammy Abraham, however, managed to get a hattrick while playing in this formation and some players were able to play the counter-attacking necessary to play this formation. Chelsea’s transfer activity will determine whether we see more of this formation in the future, but one thing is for sure, we can always use this formation to beat Tottenham Hotspurs.

The 4-2-3-1

The classic Chelsea formation that has seen a lot of past managers at Chelsea use this, Frank Lampard has played in this formation a lot himself. Chelsea have been pretty successful while using this formation, except for the first game of the season against Manchester United. This formation saw Jorginho and Kovacic play in a two-man midfield, and we won 4 out of our 6 games of our winning streak in the Premier League using this formation. Mason Mount played as no.10, a position that saw him play his best football at Chelsea, he was playing almost as a 2nd striker and was very good at arriving late in the box. Although Chelsea used this formation as an alternative due to injury problems that Kante had at that point of the season. It is still a formation we should look into using more, our lack of a proper well-defined no.10 has also been a factor for not using this formation too much. Chelsea have signed Hakim Ziyech and is also looking at Coutinho who can play the no.10 CAM role very well and this would see us use this formation a lot more often. This is an exciting idea that a lot of Chelsea fans hope will become a reality next season.

Written by Ajay 

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