The Challenge Ahead (Part 2) : Transition From a 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1 Formation

This is a continuation of one of my articles titles titled “The Challenge Ahead: Chelsea’s Transition Into An Attacking Side”. Here I will take a look at the formation that we began to use regularly under Roberto Di Matteo when he took over the job on an interim basis.

Mourinho (right) started the 4-3-3 system

Since the days of Jose Mourinho, Chelsea have lined up in a 4-3-3 formation. Basically,the formation encouraged attacking wing-play and a packed midfield which provided solidity in defence. Indeed, one could understand why Jose began to use this formation. Joe Cole, Arjen Robben & Damien Duff were all wingers who loved to make searing runs down the wing and then deliver crosses for the oncoming Didier Drogba. Players like Essien & Makelele were used as midfield anchors, whilst Ballack quietly controlled the midfield, allowing Super Frank to make his traditional late runs into the box. The nature of this formation also meant that our wingers found it easy to get into goal-scoring positions.

Juan Mata flourished in the 4-2-3-1 system

However, no system is perfect. And the flaws of the 4-3-3 were there for all to see when results started going downhill last season. A packed midfield 3 offered no creativity whatsoever. Our wingers were under-performing,  and Juan Mata often found himself stuck on the left wing where he could not influence & dictate the play as much as he liked. The system needed to be changed, & that’s exactly what Roberto Di Matteo did when he was appointed as caretaker manager.
He started using the 4-2-3-1 formation. The formation has 2 defensive midfielders, attacking wingers and one attacking midfielder playing in the hole. Juan Mata no longer played on the left wing but in the attacking midfield role where he could influence the game. 2 defensive midfielders meant there was some solidity in defence, which had been shaky the whole season. The change worked.

It seems likely that Chelsea are going to stick with this formation. The players that we have already bought and the players we are still chasing would be perfectly suited to this system. Also, the 4-2-3-1 formation worked wonders for Liverpool when they had Gerrard playing in the hole & Fernando Torres leading the attack. With the Spaniard appearing to find some form towards the end of last season, it would suit Chelsea to play to his strengths as he will be the main striker next season. And I see no reason for Roberto Di Matteo to revert back to the 4-3-3. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Keep The Blue Flag Flying High till then fellow BLUES….

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