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    Analysing Chelsea's 3-4-2-1: Dismantling the system

    Antonio Conte never rushed the tactical switch to his preferred 3 at the back, seemingly giving time for the squad to find its feet in the familiar 4-2-3-1. A formation which in better times was the foundation of there title triumph under Jose Mourinho only 18 odd months ago. After they had been trounced at the Emirates, enough was enough and the 3 at the back was introduced. 9 games on in the league and they have a perfect record, 9 wins from 9 but what are the crucial factors to such rapid success during an immense transitions? and can they be beaten?


    The first half of the 3-1 win against city showcased the variability Chelsea have in attack, due to the ability of the players but more importantly the system. In recent games Chelsea have dominated possession and established control over games, particularly against lesser sides. However when faced with a high press, like that of Manchester city's which is there to disturb and prevent controlled build up from the back, Chelsea are forced to go long, which perhaps is an even greater strength as you'll see in the images below.
    screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-22-38-32Manchester City have become stretched as they are forced to drop off and recover the long ball. This creates gaps between the defence and midfield, gaps which Chelsea's front 3 are primed to take advantage off with wing backs Alonso and Moses supporting on the flanks. Hazard and Pedro are in close proximity to Costa, bringing themselves the opportunity to win the ball high up the pitch from a second ball.screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-22-38-54The transition, almost effortless is complete and City are forced to disengage there attack as Hazard picks up the second ball and lashes it just wide of the post. Chelsea have the ability to both play out from the back with options and security whilst also possessing the luxury of 3 attackers all within a similar area with also the option of the long ball. However this does not mean that there are 2 styles of play, because wether the ball is switched upfield or played across the floor there is a pace and penetrative edge to the way they reach the final third of the pitch. Pep Guardiola of City noted his sides "weakness in both boxes", an element which is heavily contrasting to Chelsea, who are defensively solid having conceded just 3 goals in the last 9 league games and scored 19 which leads me on too...

    Attacking Potential:

    Pedro, Eden Hazard and Diego Costa make up one of the best attacking line ups in the premier league. Each are title champions for Barcelona, Athletico madrid and Chelsea and have crafted a reputation of success over recent years. They are delivering on the expectation that comes with being the main attacking force of the side, which may be a strong vote of confidence but similarly a potential "Hazard" (pun intended) as the season is long and grinding, injuries and fatigue are a possibility even if its not in the immediate future. However Diego Costa is the leading goalscorer of the season on 11 while both Pedro and Hazard have doubled and tripled last seasons tallies already. It is crucial they continue there rich form or the side will suffer as the season progresses. As seen below the reality of this front 3 bearing down on a defence is quite frightening for any opposition, the pace, power and technical gifts possessed will no doubt create a mental advantage as well as an individual one. Everton are a testament to this as they boasted one of the best defences in the league up until the 5-0 mauling of Chelsea, constant counter attacks and telepathic movements threw Everton into disarray. Chelsea may relay on these 3 but the chance for a sustainable season is also possible, a lack of European football and early exit of the cup can counter the arguments for potential injury and fatigue. everton-0-chelsea-5
    With all this praise and success received from the media and fans nationally it is hard to see any worries within the system or worse yet, faults. However i noted specific phases within the fixtures against Tottenham and Manchester City which highlighted potential points of exploitation.

    Wide Areas:

    In the image above it is clearly noticeable the amount of space Kevin de Bruyne as mentioned in my text box above. This was a constant theme as both Hazard and Pedro neglected there defensive responsibilities and allowed Alonso and Moses to be stretched at the back. No one wanted to press or step out of there position which supports my idea of the lack of confidence within decision making when Chelsea are in these areas or phases of play. which in turn paved way for De Bruyne to deliver dangerous balls in or use the overloading winger(Navas or Sane).
    One major flaw which could have resulted in a goal was the obscurity between outer centre back and wingback, in this case Azpilicueta and Victor Moses.screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-22-41-55Manchester City matched Chelsea with there setup but differed in the role of the wingbacks. City's wingbacks acted as wingers, pushing Chelsea deeper and deeper. Sane who played on City's wing continually hang out on the touchline before bursting in behind Moses, who is not a natural defender. But this move which i believe was done purposely was perfected due to the movement of Aguero. He Dragged Azpilicueta, the outer most centre back into the space of David Luiz which was the trigger for Sane to run in behind. Luckily for chelsea the clear goal scoring opportunity was wasted.
    But this is "fault" is no fluke or tactical masterstroke. Looking back to Chelsea's fixture against tottenham, Eriksens opening goal for spurs showed similarities to the move of City.screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-23-00-10Dele Alli had drifted in between Azpilicueta and Moses as pedro once again failed to comply with his defensive duties which simultaneously drew out the defender and left Harry Kane with space and time, enough time for Luiz to notice and follow him once again creating breaches of space for Eriksen, who is not even in the picture yet as drifts across picks up the ball from alli, takes a touch shoots and scores. The ambiguity surrounding the area between Wingback and Centre back needs to be addressed as more than just 2 teams will begin to catch on and exploit this deficiency.
    But for Chelsea it is only a minor issue, winning games by scoring emphatic goals and resilient performances is all they need for now, they have slowly but surely stormed into top spot, and it is the one who finish top on christmas who gets the best present of all...but now we know they are far from the finished article.
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    Item Reviewed: Analysing Chelsea's 3-4-2-1: Dismantling the system Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Devfootball
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