Tactical Analysis: What is going wrong at Chelsea?

For the fourth game in a row Chelsea failed to record a league win, with the club picking up two points from a possible twelve, losing two and drawing two. This has led to them falling off the pace at the top of the Premier League, with West Brom just a point behind Chelsea in fourth. Add into this that Chelsea host the Champions, Man City next weekend and one could argue that things might get worse before they get better at Chelsea. For the past few seasons November has been a bad month for Chelsea, things capitulated under Ancelotti around the same time in 2010 after Ray Wilkins was sacked, whilst things began to unravel for AVB last term during November.

The absence of John Terry/Defensive weakness

The defence has been the obvious weakness at Chelsea in recent weeks. In the four games John Terry missed through suspension Chelsea conceded ten goals. In the other two games he has missed, including then Liverpool game, Chelsea have conceded six goals. Without Terry the side have endured a torrid time at the back. Many people have said that he is a spent force, but it is clear that his influence is still huge at Chelsea and he is still their best defender, by far. Cahill and Luiz are simply not at the same standard, with both prone to being caught out. Cahill is actually as culpable as Luiz at time, his mistakes are just more subtle so tend to pick up less attention.

Further to Terry’s absence the absence of Ashley Cole has also had an impact on the Chelsea back-line. Bertrand is OK, but not near the same standard as Cole yet. If Chelsea think they can move on without Cole and Terry they are sorely mistaken. The two English defenders are their most experienced and best, able to communicate and organize the back-line like none of their other defenders. Another obvious defensive problem that I, and others, have mentioned several times is that Chelsea are very vulnerable on defending from wide positions during transitions. Hazard and Mata, who are usually focused out wide for Chelsea, often drift into central areas, which means when Chelsea lose the ball their full-backs are incredibly vulnerable and can be targeted during swift counter-attacks. This is arguably a wider problem with the system but it is even more exposed without Terry and Cole in the side.

Fernando Torres

The former Liverpool striker has not scored for Chelsea in the league for six matches.  With his last goal for Chelsea being an absolute fluke against Shakhtar, a game in which he did not play that well. It is bordering on surreal when Chelsea fans stick up for Torres or claim he will be back to his best soon; he wont. Euro 2012′s Golden Boot winner looks massively out of place and is finding it difficult even with so much attacking talent behind him. He cannot seem to take easy chances and his lack of movement is also hindering the side.

He also cannot hold the ball up, being dispossessed 2.9 times per game, which is sloppy and careless. The fact he was subbed off when Chelsea were chasing the game against West Brom indicates that RDM has started to realize that Torres is part of the problem not the solution. Sturridge is also not really an adaquete replacement which may mean that Chelsea have to use Eden Hazard as a false 9 until January. The best solution for Chelsea would be a swap deal for Falcao.

Lack of Plan B

All of this ties in with the obvious issue that Chelsea lack a Plan B, despite the huge summer investment. Chelsea’s lack of strikers mean that despite chasing the game they had to replace Torres without another option on the bench. There is no big target man to aim at, they just have to continue with more of the same and hope it works. RDM has not strayed from a 4-2-3-1 this season and it remains to be seen whether Chelsea’s personnel can fit into any other system. A 4-3-3 is a possibility but Hazard and Mata don’t like playing as wingers per-se. RDM needs to go back to the drawing board and re-assess his options or he could risk falling out of the title race.

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2 comments for “Tactical Analysis: What is going wrong at Chelsea?

  1. Mario
    November 19, 2012 at 19:43

    “Sturridge is also not really an adaquete replacement ”

    I would like for him to be given a run in the side before making such decisions. He has played 190 minutes as a leading the line for us this season out of 315 minutes minutes total. If Chicharito or Dzeko were given only 190 minutes up top for their clubs I doubt they would even get into scoring rhythm and enough match practice for their finishing to be up to the standard needed.

    He is a young player who on-loan at Bolton had a total of 50 shots, 20 of which were on target and 8 were converted into goals. We have not given him the time on the field to really prove himself here he has been at Chelsea for 3 years – before going on loan to Bolton he had 3 starts the entire first half of our season against Ipswich; Zhilina(A and H). He had 4 goals in these 3 games, next year when he returned from his loan he played one match up top together with Lukaku I believe against Blackburn.

    I’d understand if he was horrible for the matches he has played this season but most of the time he was used a striker – it was already late in the game and we were chaotically chasing a result.

    Played as a striker:
    Manchester United(CC) – 120 minutes
    Manchester United – 10 minutes
    QPR – 10 minutes
    Donetsk(A) – 21 minutes
    Donestk(H) – 1 minute
    Liverpool – 9 minutes
    United – 30 minutes

    It’s clear to me that people only want to notice the “bad” parts of Sturridge game – I have not heard a single person mention the three chances he setup for Moses in the Capital One Cup, two of which came before he had scored in that game. One was a clear scoring chance from a few yards away with no defender in front of Moses who fired it straight at the keeper after Sturridge laid it off to him from the right flank. The other chance was similar to the chance Sturridge setup for Hazard against Donetsk a clever one touch allowing Moses to be one on one against a United defender and the third was the one on one chance Moses missed at the end of the game.
    The other positive was he continued to make runs for 120 minutes and his head never went down, he continued to try and although he made 3 awful decisions that match, that was understandable after playing for the first time as a striker at the club since Blackburn last season and first start this season after about 60 minutes on the field as a sub in the rest of our games.

    I hope RdM actually tries to give him a run before completely disregarding him after we sign a new forward in the winter.

    • November 19, 2012 at 19:45

      Rumoured to be starting on Tuesday night versus Juve

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