Should we return to the 4-3-3?

The 4-3-3 could be food for thought for Rafa
The 4-3-3 could be food for thought for Rafa

It was the formation that lay the foundations for success, the formation that contained the Makelele role, the formation that displayed the talent of Robben and Duff and it was the formation that gave us the majority of our success. The 4-4-3.

A formation favoured by Jose Mourinho, Guus Hiddink and after a while Carlo Ancelotti – all of whom brought success to the Bridge. After a difficult tenure under Andre Villas-Boas, the 4-3-3 was seemingly ditched after AVB’s bizarrely high defensive line and when Di Matteo came in the system shifted to the one currently deployed, the 4-2-3-1 sort of thing. This formation was bought in to provide us with more defensive stability and worked well defensively with Kalou on one wing and Ramires on the other providing protection for Ashley Cole and the great Monobrow. The system was far less defensive this season with the attacking talent of Juan Mata, Eedeen Azzaaarr, Oscar, Victor Moses and Marko Marin.

This season, the midfield formation really hasn’t helped our defence as attacking minded players have been asked to sit in front of the back four and wingers who had no knowledge of defending (yes Eden, I’m looking at you) deployed to give protection to Dave or Cole. On occasion, the formation has worked wonders – take the Arsenal game at the Emirates for example – but it has only really been when a full strength team has been played that it has been effective and I’m starting to feel that a formation change could be beneficial to our players and to our season.

Step forward the 433, the formation I believe can bring success to Chelsea.

Deploying a 433 would, I believe bring the best out of players like Eden Hazard, Ramires and Moses. In the 433, these players have less defensive responsabilty than the currently do in the 4231 which means they can cause a lot more damage to the oppositions defense. In my humble opinion, Ramires’ best games have come from being played in a 3 man midfield where he can use his endless energy to burst forward.

A return to the 433 would also see the return of a player playing in the ‘Makelele role’. Oriol Romeu showed his class under AVB when playing in a 433 as the deeper midfielder and Mikel has shown for a while now he is more than capable of playing there to a high standard. By playing this way, it enables the full backs to go forward with more cover and also allows for more attack minded central midfielders to play in the midfield as there will always be defensive cover.

Most importantly, 433 is a formation that many of the players are used to playing for Chelsea which means we should be better suited to this system. The 433 has shown Chelsea’s wingers at their best and Frank Lampard and Ramires are better suited to this system than they are to the double pivot. I have provided some pictures showing the line ups we could employ. I have done the first XI, the rotation players and the loanies. My apologies if the image quality is bad, the line ups are written in the caption going left to right.

first XI could look like this
First XI: Cech, Dave, Cahill, Terry, Cole, Obi, Lamps, Ramires, Mata, Ba, Hazard
rotation options
Some rotation options: Cech, Brana, Luiz, Terry, Bertrand, Oriol, Oscar, Lampard, Moses, Torres and Marin
loanies
Loanies: Courtois, Kalas, Bruma, Omerou, PVA, Essien, McEachran, KDB, Kakuta, Lukaku and Piazon.

As you can see there are many options for us to use with this formation and each system shows a strong team.

There is however, a mild concern.

Juan Mata. The magician has shown this season how incredibly talented he is in his natural position and a slight concern is that in a 433, he is unable to play in his favoured number-10 role and this may be an issue as he may not be as brilliant as he has been. Mata though did play in this system under AVB and at Valencia on occasion and showed his class so it is likely he’ll be just as brilliant in this system.

Personally, I do just feel that our tactics could do with some freshening up and a bit of alteration and this system could certainly be at least a plan B if not a plan A. However, contary to popular belief, I am not Rafa Benitez, nor am I a manager of Chelsea Football Club so my words here are unlikely to have any impact on our tactics. If anything, I hope that this is food for thought and I certainly believe that whatever manager comes in the summer will acknowledge this option for his team.

Your feedback is always welcome and we’d like to know your views! Leave them in the comments section below! Also let me know if there is another formation that you think would improve us!

15 Comments
  1. Abishaek says

    I would prefer the 4-4-2 formation instead playing both Torres and Ba upfront!

    1. huwsaunders says

      Where would Mata play?

  2. YinXun Tan says

    4-3-3
    Cech
    Azpi – Terry – Luiz – Cole
    Ramires – Mikel – Mata
    Moses – Ba – Eden Hazard

    i think that this would be better, since Mata can play alike Iniesta in that role… The midfield 3 is quite solidly balanced as well !

    1. huwsaunders says

      yeah, I thought about Mata in that deeper role but he was untested there so I put him on the wing. I quite like that idea though!

  3. tim says

    I dont think play’n 4.3.3 will favour some of our players! When we played 4.3.3 we had fast attack’n clinically raw wingers like a.robben,wright-philips,duff,joe cole,deco etc who will beat opponents with speed and cut in the cross only for anelka or d.d11 to finish it up classically! With this squared, most of our attackers are ball juggers. They like to take players on and skillfully beat opponents and give a short pass! Look at moses, he’ll twist,turn and dine just to beat opponents whilst attackers are in the box wait’n for the ball.. Harzard too will burst with speed and slow down when he gets to the third part of the field. Oscar too. So incase they loose ball then we have to pay for it by conceed’n a goal or card! Play’n 4.4.1.1 will help

  4. brynknight says

    I did an article on an alternative system here http://chelseafc360.com/2013/01/26/an-answer-to-some-major-questions/

    It is mainly a 3-4-3 but is very flexible, such is the versatility of the players in my chosen line-up that it can become any formation at all with a couple of tweaks. It can easily be a 4-3-3 as shown here http://lineupbuilder.com/?sk=gx97

    I think this 4-3-3 could be very successful, but what really interested me was a comment from a reader that suggested a variation that resembles Barcelona’s system. This is what it would look like http://lineupbuilder.com/?sk=v11

    Luiz, Ramires and Oscar are our Busquets, Fabregas and Xavi; Moses, Hazard and Mata are our Pedro, Messi and Iniesta. This means converting Hazard to a false nine, but I’m sure he could do it. There are a lot of similarities between Eden Hazard, Victor Moses and Juan Mata and the Lionel Messi, Pedro and Andres Iniesta of four years ago.

    The Brazilians Luiz, Ramires and Oscar would be the holy trinity in midfield; between them they would, in my opinion, be a heavenly combination, capable of totally dominating teams much the same way as Barca’s Spanish midfielders do.

    Again, I’m sadly not Chelsea’s manager, but I think this one is certainly worth trying. I’m not saying it will win the Champions League immediately, but with a little patience it could work wonders.

  5. Bitto raphael says

    Let try 4-3-3 4 now but, on preseason basis we use 3-4-3 bcoz we get a lot of midfielder with d talent to play such formatn 343 n we can do it perfectly. Check dis out cech,curtious in goal=cesar,KDB,remires,moses runin the right wing=terry or invanovic the dog fighter=cole,bertrand,marin left wing=mata,oscar,KDB, attackin midfielders = ba,torres,lukaku,piazon strikers and in 433;cech>cesar-luiz-terry-cole >mikel-remires-lampard >mata-ba-hazard

    1. Cjgfcgjfcdjr says

      You have no grammar what so ever

  6. Tom Gardner says

    4 – 4 – 2

  7. robben16 says

    i like these formation but for rotation option it would be gk – turnbull, rb – ferreira, cb – ivanovic, cb – luiz, lb – bertrand, dm – romeu, cm – oscar, am – marin, rw – moses, lw – malouda, st – torres. in addition. chelsea should sell torres and buy striker who has good skills and speed like neymar. it would make chelsea has variety of option for the striker position.

  8. Michael chawiya says

    4-1-3-1-1 formation
    Cech-Azip-Terry-Luiz-Cole
    Mikel
    Rami-Oscar-Hazard
    Mata
    Ba

  9. arthur says

    3-4-3 formation is one worth trying. All we need to be successful in this formation is very strong defence . cech 3+Terry Iva cole, 4+oscar mikel lampard ramy . 3+mata ba hazard. With this formation we can destroy any team in the world

  10. Anonymous says

    Cech
    Azpilicueta Ivanovic Cahill Cole
    Ramires Luiz Mata
    Moses Ba Hazard

    Could rotate Mikel, Lampard, Terry, Marin, Oscar etc.

  11. Vaibhav Kumble says

    Ive been saying this for a long time now.. our main problen is our formation. 4-3-3 or even a 4-1-3-2 would suit us better…

  12. Anonymous says

    The 433 formation should b employed

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