Pre-match analysis – Sunderland vs Chelsea

Despite a a 6-1 drubbing of group E whipping boys Nordsjaelland, Chelsea find themselves out of the Champions League and in Europa. Though the negatives of that win are easy to figure out, there are positives as well as Chelsea head into their next EPL fixture against Sunderland who haven’t lived up to expectations. 2 wins in 22 games is a very poor record and if you face a team that is low on confidence when it comes to playing domestic, how far would Martin O’Neil go for three points?

Natural movement for both the sides –

Note : Mikel unavailable after picking up a suspension. Expect Lampard or Romeu to start.

Sunderland probable formation is 4-2-3-1 which can be converted to a 4-4-1-1 . Chelsea meanwhile are to stick with Rafael Benitez’s favoured 4-2-3-1 with a rigid defensive structure which aims at making the midfield more compact. West Ham suffered with that tactic as Chelsea made it look like the London neighbor’s midfield had just been nullified. Second half gave a different story though as the concentration from the boys in blue disappeared.

The four defenders at the back for Sunderland are well built but Bardsley and Rose like Chelsea’s Cole and Azpilicueta love to trudge forward. Expect the left flank to be used the most though as Rose loves to get forward at every opportunity. Expect Azplicueta and Cole to do the same and they exploiting the flanks will be vital for Chelsea as Rafa tries to find the path to secure three points.

Sunderland’s pivot on the other hand is quite different to Chelsea’s. Gardner is the Mikel who goes back to provide extra cover at counter-attacks and a bigger presence in the opposite half. Larsson is the Ramires who moves into the AMF role from time to time and can also defend apart from controlling the tempo of the game. The biggest difference being that Ramires and Mikel push to the flanks to provide extra cover, whereas Larsson and Gardner barely do that. This is where Sunderland have suffered, as Rose and Bardsley push forward each time, they leave a huge space at the back. This can be very much exploited.

Next up is the front three behind the striker. Only Sessegnon is similar to Oscar. He perform’s the No.10 duty along with pushing back from time to time. He is good at distributing play from the flanks and very essential in Sunderland’s transitions from defense to attack. Moreover he along with Larsson and Gardner play long balls to the big man upfront, a vital part to Sunderland’s tactical approach. Johnson, a  City reject, on the other hand is your typical English winger. He darts down that right flank and also cuts in causing problems to just about any defender. This is where the game can be won for them and we need a really fit Cole or fully concentrated Bertrand. McClean is pretty much the same as well . Only negative in their play is that they don’t track back. In a game where you know your full-backs are providing width, you have to cover for them if the pivot players don’t. Johnson and McClean are not assigned with any such defensive duties this season. Their decision to defend is largely based on, on the spot procedure thinking.

This is where Hazard, Mata or Moses have to come into play. I haven’t added Moses to the image showing the natural movement. This is because of Rafa’s rotation policy, which makes it hard to guess who will play. Getting back to the point though, MAZACAR or whoever we chose to play in that position will be vital for Chelsea. The flanks is where Chelsea can really exploit Sunderland’s weakness as they expose quite a lot at the flanks.  Moreover Torres really has to make runs. This kind off defense should be torn apart by him. He has to find space in between the defenders, and Chelsea will end up with a bucket-load of goals.

Here’s to hoping that the Nordsjaelland brace has him on a high.

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