Chelsea owe a lot to the “parking the bus” formation introduced by Jose Mourinho and continued by fan favorite Roberto Di Matteo last season; it gave us our maiden piece of silverware in Europe’s most elite club competition. It encouraged the wingers to revert from the high-pressing style of Andre Villas-Boas to a more conservative theme. Di Matteo emphasized the importance of tracking back once possession was lost; A key reason why Ryan Bertrand was deployed on the left wing in the Champions League final in Munich. This formation did not give much consideration to the attacking players around at the time as Daniel Sturridge, a prime example, was not adept to defending or retrieving the ball deep in his own half. Juan Mata was also forced to adjust and it became visible towards the last month or so of last season that he was running out of steam. It was obvious why Ramires and Kalou were used on the flanks in the FA Cup semi-final tie with Spurs; because the pitch was much longer than the home grounds of either team. They were both more naturally inclined to track back and limit the likes of Gareth Bale from doing much damage. This pragmatic style of defending had its rewards, but it was also too pragmatic and risky for a team as big as Chelsea. As we look more towards this season, we see that new signing Eden Hazard is not comfortable having to track back and defend as he loses energy once Chelsea get on the ball. It limited his creative ability, as most Chelsea fans would agree, more than it did at Lille where he managed to come up with 20 goals in Ligue 1 and equally as many assists. To be fair, any winger having to track back and defend for 90 minutes 2 to 3 times a week for 8 months would find it hard to cope, and would eventually become fatigued.
With the summer months of wheeling, dealing and rebuilding coming fast, most fans would begin to feel the excitement of newer, better players coming in to strengthen their team, especially at Chelsea. We are usually linked with a wealth of players from the Agueros to the “New Drogbas: that encapsulate the mind of the Chelsea faithful about a season of flair and fantasy. To be more realistic, Chelsea do not need more than three to four new players this window, especially with a few loan stars coming back, hopefully more mature and developed. I believe it also necessary that we look to accommodate the newcomers as well as the old in a more positive style of play. That is why I believe the 4-3-2-1 formation would be an attractive prospect for the Blues.
We have really been lacking solidity at the back this season. Time and time again we’ve seen Cole been schooled like a reserve team player and Terry being done like a playboy doll. Ivanovic and Cahill have also had their moments of shame as the previous was terrible at the turn of the year and the latter’s latest error was not closing Benteke down enough allowing him to jeopardize our Champions League hopes before Super Frank put it right for us in the dying moments. Luiz has arguably been our best Center Back and possible our best holding player as well. If the rumors of Jose Mourinho’s second coming are to be believed, he will find it imperative to correct out defensive woes. Luiz has to make it in their for me, and I do sense a new partnering center back is on his way as well. Kyriakos Papadopolous has been linked to Chelsea, according to the Guardian, and £15m fee is not a bad price for one of the most promising Centre Back in European football. He is strong, versatile, solid and can play in the holding position decently as well. This no non-sense defender would compliment the eccentric-ism of Luiz perfectly. No changes are needed out on the right as Azpilicueta has been a gem of signing for us and is, quite rightly, an automatic starter. Ashley Cole has been a headache for Petr Cech all season as his age and his ankles have finally caught up with him. Patrick Van Aanholt has been steady for Vitesse all season as they contine to chase for a spot in Europe. He is quick, strong, agile and can cross the ball much more comfortably than Cole could ever do.
Our double in the pivot has also been a concern as Chelsea lacked the depth in that area with Mikel and, to a lesser extent, Romeu the only two naturals in that position. A perfect player for the 4-3-2-1 next season would have to be Benat. He would occupy the most central midfield role and would act as a deep-lying play maker. He has an eye for a pass, he can shoot and is a lethal set-piece and corner kick taker. On his left Kevin De Bruyne would be immense for us with his Ramires-like stamina in addition to his long-range abilities in the pass and shot. Him and Ramires as box-to-box midfielders will always give their opposite numbers problems. We would be covered in case of injuries as Frank Lampard is set to stay for at least another season and with Oscar, Mikel and Romeu available, we should be sorted.