The Champions of Europe

Chelsea Tactical Preview: How will Mourinho’s Men set up in the 2014/15 season?

Formation | How will they set-up?

Chelsea have tried a host of formations after having one of the most efficient pre-seasons in Europe in which only the Werder Bremen game was ruined by a refereeing fiasco. The aim was to increase fitness , use the youth and experiment. Chelsea are expected to field a 4-2-3-1, despite having used variations of 3-5-2 and 4-3-3 in pre-season. Courtois or Cech is a debate that has been long drawn, but I expect Courtois to start the first game and then Mourinho will make his judgment on who to use in further important games.

The expected four at the back are Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry and Azpilicueta. Chelsea had one of the best defensive systems in Europe last season and I don’t expect Filipe Luis to just walk into the team. Azpilicueta had to fight for his spot and I gradually expect him to be phased out to his natural right side and Luis to start most of Chelsea’s games.

In the middle I expect Nemanja Matic to start 99.99% of the times. His arrival in January meant that he couldn’t be registered in the Champions League, which went on to haunt the West London outfit. However he’s been a standout performer this pre-season. I fully expect the combination of him and Cesc Fabregas to form the pivot. Ramires and Matic seem like less creative options.

Hazard, Oscar and Schurrle should form the attacking trio behind the striker. While two of the positions are more or less confirmed, I expect Schurrle to start more as he’s improved immensely since he’s moved to Chelsea. Moreover he comes off the back of a fantastic World Cup campaign, making more of a contribution than the German players up north. Willian and Salah should compete for the rest of the spots.

Upfront I foresee Diego Costa starting most of the games and Fernando Torres seeing long spells on the bench as Didier Drogba takes up the post of a super sub.

Analysis | What can we expect from them tactically?

The back four will be expected to do more than they did last season. Chelsea were pretty much paralyzed on the left flank due to using a right-back over there but with the inclusion of arguably the best attacking full-back in Europe, they have no excuses. As it has been with any Mourinho team, I expect the full-backs to be a vital part of attack. Crossing is one of Luis’ main strengths and with no natural crossers in the team, Jose will be looking to make full use of it.

The midfield however is where Chelsea suffered, with the pivot being as creative as Chetan Bhagat. Matic’s inclusion in January meant that Chelsea’s quality in midfield increased ten fold. However with an aging Lampard and ineffective Ramires in the middle, there weren’t any deep lying play-makers in the team.

Enter Cesc Fabregas. The man’s treatment at Barcelona could be considered disgraceful but now he is back at a team where he doesn’t have to fight for a place to take over from an aging Xavi and Iniesta. The truth is Mourinho needs Fabregas more than Fabregas needs Chelsea. Every time defense transitioned into attack the Chelsea faithful realized that watching paint dry was more entertaining. There wasn’t a spark. There was no one to pull the strings and find the pass to put players through on goal, with Ramires opting to run with the ball than pass. Fabregas fills the hole of a deep lying playmaker that Chelsea have been crying out for quite a long time.

Oscar should continue as the number 10 while rotating with Willian. Their role asks them to be rather aggressive and press their opponents in certain phases. This will make ball retention and recycling a much easier process. They will also be deployed to thwart the opposition’s deep lying play-makers so the job demands a tremendous amount of work-rate. The three behind the striker are versatile enough to exchange places, that is what makes it all the more interesting. I expect Hazard to pick up from where he left off and continue winning matches by himself. Now he has someone as creative as himself behind him and as clinical as him in front of him. This should reduce the pressure on his square shoulders and he will thrive. His ability to attract 2 or 3 players on himself will open spaces that can be taken advantage of by the likes of Costa and Fabregas.

Schurrle’s runs are as beautiful as the Halley’s comet. However just like the comet that appears once in 75 years, Schurrle’s runs are rarely seen by his team-mates. This is where I see the inclusion of Fabregas as making a tremendous difference. The Spaniard’s ability to pick out runners , both long and short range, will make him vital to Mourinho’s game plan. Hazard’s ability to pick him out resulted in him grabbing a hat-trick and hopefully the German produces more of the same.

Key Player | Who will be the stand-out player for the system?

Despite Chelsea’s transfer dealings, Eden Hazard is being carefully nurtured into a world-class player. The man who was branded as the best young player in the world by Jose Mourinho himself looks set to come into the season with his eyes fully set on the title. Chelsea heavily relied on his individual brilliance last season to win games when all hope seemed lost. Despite being defensively exploited by Atletico , he seems to have worked harder and harder in training . He doesn’t like losing, and with the players around him, he can continue creating sparks of magic at free will.

Eden Hazard has always been versatile and can play anywhere across the midfield apart from playing in the holding role. His ability to cut inside and shoot is something Chelsea haven’t experienced since Arjen Robben moved away from Stamford Bridge to ply his trade in the lush surroundings of Spain. Jose would like to exploit his abilities to the fullest and with him now being able to feed a striker who is arguably one of the most clinical in Europe, Chelsea look to be a much better team than last year already.

Talent Radar | Who will be the key young player this season?

Marco van Ginkel is a Dutch prodigy and he has had quite a decent pre-season. Missing most of last season due to a horrific injury suffered away to Swindon means that he is raring to go out and prove himself. He was brought in from Vitesse last season and was tipped to eventually break into the rather bleak Chelsea midfield. Things seem a lot more tougher for him this season with the quality heavily improved but one doesn’t know what his future at Chelsea holds. One thing is sure though, he has talent and the right kind of atmosphere to flourish in abundance.

Kurt Zouma was another buy midway through last season in a bid to improve Chelsea’s defense. Age is catching up with Mr.Chelsea but John Terry doesn’t seem like stopping. He became better and better last season and he was arguably the best center-back in England and Europe. Zouma should find him self starting a few games and the obvious substitute if any of the center-backs were to be injured. The man is huge and aerially really good for someone who is just 19. Standing at about 6 feet and 2 inches, he is literally built for the rough life of a English Premier League defender. Jose Mourinho will at the end of the day hope that players like Zouma and van Ginkel will show an upward rise in their development chart and turn out to brilliant future assets for Chelsea Football Club.

Article written by Sherry Philips. Follow him on Twitter @TransitionPhase

Categorised in: 360 Analysis, Tactical Analysis

29 Responses »

  1. Agree with most of the things. However I think Dave should be on the rb, ivanovic no doubt is a good defender/full back. But his attacking , crossing abilities are weak. Last season his crosses were pretty poor and didn’t really contributed much as a RB. I’m aware of his defensive abilities but compared to Dave , Dave is much more hard working running up and down , and is better at crossing , attacking and stuff. Obviously they’re both good, but I’m just saying I prefer Dave . As to Felipe Luis , yeah he has to fight for his place, but I don’t think Dave should be replaced. Just my thoughts 🙂

  2. I agree with evritin bt i prefer filipe luis coz he is a natural left footer nd also willian to schurle coz hes a hardworker bt all in all mourinho has a great squad nd we are poised to get da title

  3. Good article. If schurrle give starting line up, he wl be z top scorer. I like his speed and strong ball kick and clinical finishing. William fights with Oscar for his place. Salah also gives z team more speed from z bench.

  4. @ admin,i concur wit ur team selection,but i tink felipe should fil d left back positn.iva should fight it out wit dave.4 me schurle is a far better choice dan willian.let oscar & willian fight 4 d #10 spot.cech
    iva\jt\cahil\felipe
    cesc\matic
    schurl\oscar\hazard
    diego costa.
    courtious & cech should be kept fit by playn dem as madrid did wit lopez & iker.

  5. Nice, I think Hazard should play in the No. 10 role, He played there in his last Season for Lille and He got more assists and scored like 20 goals….. I remember he started in the No. 10 position for us and I could remember he was tougher for the opposition center backs…… I observe that whenever he has the ball on the flank, 3 opponents closes him down and he likes to dribble past them which I think is making games difficult for him cause he’s not a direct winger who will run with the ball and make crosses but its difficult for teams to have 3players closing him from the middle, that opens up space for our striker to receive through ball.

  6. Nice article. Agree with most commentators that luis shd be at lb. Schurrle and willian shd be rotated. As. For youth prospects, yu dint mention ake. Ake reminds me of alaba. He cld play an important role this season at lb. I’ve watched him play and he just wants to do well irrespective of where he plays.

  7. I think we can hope to see a fluid formation. Fabregas’ inclusion allows us to do a lot more. 4-2-3-1 can change to 4-3-3, 4-4-2, 3-5-2 etc. fabregas becomes the anchor (along with matic) and Oscar acts as the shuttle between the formations and hazard or schurrle can act as secondary strikers (i prefer the latter). as someone above rightly pointed out, dave at RB and Luis at LB would provide us a lot of defensive offense, something which can allow us to convert into a 3 defender formation during possession.

    Of course, it depends on what mourinho wants, but the squad depth in the form of zouma, MVG Willian, Salah, Moses, Christenen, Ake just promote the possibility of a fluctuating formation.

    Personal preference,
    4-3-3 (fluctuating to 3-5-2)

    ——-courtois———-
    -Azpi-Iva-Cahill-Luis–
    ———Matic————
    —-Oscar—Fab——–
    -Schurrle——Hazard-
    ———-Costa———-

    I have not chosen terry solely on the basis of age and first preference would be given to terry IF AGE OR LONG TERM EVOLUTION IS NOT CONSIDERED.

    Hopefully Christenen, Zouma, MVG will see get playing time (to be read as- we will fight on all fronts)

    Potential secondary option/practice lineup-

    ————Cech—————–
    -Zouma-Christenen-Terry-Ake-
    ——–Ramires-MVG———-
    —Salah—Willian—Moses—
    ————-Torres————–

    the young defense can benefit from cech and terry’s experience while Willian can pull the strings in the attack. Salah and moses’ speed should be lethal and Torres works hard, if nothing else.
    Ramires MVG pairing should put more pressure and offer more freedom to MVG at the same time which should be benficial for his development (if this happens at all)

  8. Agreed most with the article.

    Courtois must be number one GK this season.

    For defenders, I think Azpil will play RB mainly this season.

    Terry and Cahill will still be first choice CB. But once we can lead others in EPL, I think Zouma and Christensen will be given more chance for Terry’s leave next season.

    For LB, I think Mou will try to figure out Lui or Ake will be better for this position. Basically Luis will be given chance in early matches.

    For Midfiled, I think we must have Hazard play in left side while Willian will play in the right hand. Comparing Willian with Schrrule, of course Schurrle is better on goal finishing but Willain is better on passing accuracy and goal creation. And as we dont any strong backup for striker except Drogba, Schurrle will be super sub for us for any strategy flexibilty.

    For pivot and number 10 position, I think we can have 2 set of choices depending on different opponents. For weker teams, we can play Matic with Frbregas at pivot with Oscar at number 10. For stronger team or we have to play safe, we can play 3 CM – Matic + Ramires/Van ginkel + Frbregas.

    For striker, we must Costa and Drogba as backup. Drogba recently get injury and that’s why we really need good cover at this postion, As we cannot sell Torres to buy a better one, i hope Mou can give some chance to Bamford or Boga.

  9. Fantastic article!! Keep up the good work, and keep posting regularly. This tactical discussion was very interesting. Thanks guys!!

  10. Torres is still stragling to score. Z preseason clearly show how Torres cost blue for z past 3 yrs. Buying Fabregas is better than buying Torres as a striker. B/c of Torres blue lost signing likes of Agero or Falcao with cheap price. We lost a lot trophies. We also lost good coaches. We lost >£50m.. Lost lost lost …. I fear this yr we hv only Costa & aged Drogba… Z lost may continue…. Mour has to learn & take action to this huge lost…

    • Torres is our only flaw of our squad this season. If we have one more good striker, we can win all trophies in England and Europe!!!

      Now we have to pray for 2 things – 1. Costa cannot be injured or suspended for long time. 2. Any one of our new boys like Bamford, Brown or Boga mature very fast that he can play very well when we play with weaker teams. Of course, the best solution is what we have talked a long time but seems Mou will not do it — buy one more good striker (no need to be very expensive world class but a trustable player who can finish a goal) before the transfer window close.

      • Let’s just givve torres a chance. He is not that bad. Watch the game against City at home and some others. He actually turns up in big matches. Let’s just wait for his contract to run out which will be nnext year. That is what lukaku could not wait for. If he does not blow in everton (which I doubt he will), he wld remain there for a long time and most top clubs would lose interest in him. He was on the top radar cos he was a chelsea player, now that he has left, he wld find it harder. Look at de bruyne. No top team is going for him despite a lot of teams needing attackers eg athletico and man U. That’s what a lot of these players don’t understand.

  11. I feel licking my PC screen seeing the talent we got. We better win at least 4-nil, or I’ll be pissed off.

  12. dis season can be a breaktrough season 4 andre”goal getter” schurle.now der is fab who can pick out andre’s run,not oscar,willian or hazard who decides 2 romance d bal 4 so long.dough is stil 2 early 2 judg,but i see schurl givin us d goal support dat we need 2 mak up 4 lampard exit.ktbffh.

  13. @admin where is ‘what we learnt’?. Schurrle’s Finish was exquisite as well as fab’s pass. The team looks good. I’m happy with costa. He has hunger to score goals. Next step would be keeping all d players happy like ramires, luis, cech, ginkel, salah, willian.

  14. Chelsea is the team in England who is complete this year with a powerful squads

  15. What exactly is wrong with this site??

  16. chelsea is the best, i believe the team is going to do well in the league this year as well as in europe and fa cup

  17. Remy will be a gud signing for Chelsea now
    that Torres is loan

  18. Why not try 3 5 2, to the teams which park the bus; Courtois. Azpilicueta,Cahill,Terry. Willian,Fabregas,Matic,Hazard,Schurrle. Costa,Remy. Willian and Schurrle to play wings, since both of them are good at tracking back.

  19. hi!,I love your writing so so much! share we communicate more about your post on AOL?
    I need a specialist in this area to unravel my problem.
    May be that is you! Looking forward to see you.

  20. Why cant they try 3 2 3 2. Ivano,Cahill,Azpilicueta. Matic,Mikel. Hazard,Fabregas,Oscar. Costa,Remy. In this formation Matic and Mikel will be playing dirty, negating and dispossessing any attack from opponent. Thy will also protect the back 3. Hazard, Fab and Oscar will have a chance to roam free and unlock the tightest defences. While Costa and Remy will be finishing chances created by the three genius(HAFABSCAR)

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