Chelsea are finally finding some balance.

After a second-half capitulation at home to Southampton followed drab goalless draws after the October international break, Lampard has tweaked the setup to find balance within his team.

The Blues reverted to a 4-3-3 shape to add control and creativity in midfield against Krasnodar and Burnley who sat deep. This formation produced important results either side of Project Restart and sees N’golo Kanté in the holding midfield position behind double number eights.

Indeed, this is Lampard’s preferred tactical setup but the transfer ban last season coupled with a lack of preseason preparation for 2020/21, means it just might be the turning point for the Chelsea head coach.

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After a summer of spectacular transfer business saw the acquisition of six players in seismic changes to the first-team squad. All of Chelsea’s new signings are beginning to show their qualities and gel into the collective team effort.

Kurt Zouma is enjoying a new lease of life beside Thiago Silva, and benefitting from the increase in quality at set-pieces.

Defensive solidity

Chelsea have now settled on their strongest defence since Lampard took over and that has been thanks in no small part to Édouard Mendy. The Blues have kept four consecutive clean sheets due to the confidence and robustness in the box which Mendy offers. Thiago Silva is the commanding partner Kurt Zouma needed at centre-back as Reece James and Ben Chilwell are proving quite the pair of complete fullbacks. Communication has been key to the overall defensive improvement as Burnley failed to get a shot on target; the core of Mendy-Zouma-Thiago have been fundamental in that.

Midfield balance

It cannot be overstated that Kanté is world-class in his preferred role, the Frenchman is the most important piece of this setup as he gives the team an exceptional level of confidence with his superb reading of the game and ball-winning ability. 

Kanté invariably gives Kai Havertz license to create from a position where he gets on the ball more often and has looked spectacular alongside Mason Mount, who posted a 100% long passing accuracy at Burnley.  The German is effective off the ball and his 21-year-old teammate is a fantastic presser, on the front foot the pair can wreak havoc on opponents.

Additionally, the threat of Hakim Ziyech creating passing moves with Havertz must be allowed to develop with Reece James bombing forward from right fullback. 

Attacking fluidity 

The switch to 4-3-3 was aimed at creating balance for a free-flowing attack. Christian Pulisic, Timo Werner and Ziyech are quite the attacking trio who not only have the quality, guile and flexibility but an effective supporting cast to truly excel.

The technical ability, vision and creativity of Hakim Ziyech is a game-changer for Chelsea. (Getty Images)

Werner’s versatility provides adequate cover for the central and left-wing positions where Pulisic is developing an injury reputation. As against Burnley, the German is more than capable of filling in for rotation or tactical reasons. Meanwhile, Tammy Abraham possesses strength, speed, and encouraging creativity to provide different options in the centre-forward position.

It is also pertinent that Chelsea lack many out-and-out wingers in the squad, with only Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi capable of providing natural width. Thus, the flexibility of an attacking trio conceals this deficiency in an intense campaign.

Although question marks remain off the ball, the team can achieve balance with this setup and thrive notwithstanding the opposition. Alternative midfield choices, Jorginho and Mateo Kovačić offer different qualities which are suited to top-class opposition who press high. 

In truth, Chelsea are heading in the right direction and must keep the formation at home against Rennes and Sheffield this week. Lacking the training hours to perfect their setup, the players must learn it quickly to harness this genuine momentum.

Par for the course, it is time for Lampard to stick to his strongest lineup and tactics. It might prove a turning point in Chelsea’s season

Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin
November 2, 2020
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Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

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