After the UCL win by Chelsea in 2012, I slowed down my interest in club football. I can say it paled in that 2015-2016 season when Chelsea ended up mid-table. The euphoria of last season was so sweet and charges me for another. In this world of work, the Premier League has been a great ally to relieve stress. Maybe this might be the back-up job to BudgIT’s life – a PL manager. Who knows if I try a coaching badge? Am I being Gary Neville here? Fair pundit and woeful manager? Don’t judge me yet. Allow me some reflections on the coming season.
The 3-4-3 formation: It worked and spread like wild fire that Wenger, Mourinho, Pochettino and others tried the new sensation. Interestingly, Conte still bossed them. However, does 3-4-3 always work? I have watched Chelsea’s game against a decent midfield like Spurs and team strugggled with possession. 3-4-3 works for me when the play is against small teams or big teams with shoddy defence – Manchester City on both legs, the tactic comes short . 3-4-3 is a weapon captures the opposing team lacking in relative creativity to rise to the final third.
Conte should pick the lesson that 3-4-3 as midlfield of two persons will be too small to manage a strong opposition – a Dembele/Wanyama/Eriksen or Casemiro/Krooz/Modric. When the midfield is lost, no matter the defence and its number, it will still crumble. The Juventus-Real Madrid last UCL final is the evidence. This why 4-3-3 works for me.
Memories of a Makalele & Essien as rock and a Lampard, Eriksen, Fabregas, Modric-type magicians left create chances. A 2-man midfield provides a dilemma for Conte. With Fabregas pairing Kante, he is shorting the chances for defensive work and with a Kante/Bakayoko, he is possibly going to “orphan” the attack like Chelsea did against Arsenal in the FA Cup Final. He should try 4-3-3 for big games. That’s a Bakayoko-Fabregas-Kante midfield. It is the Madrid formation with Casemiro, Modric and Krooz. I like 3-4-3 because of wingbacks runs and the power of attack it unleashes but when it is a strong side, it comes very ugly with the the entire team in defence.
WingBacks Obsession: Chelsea is looking LWB and the 54 Pounds offer for Sandro is too much. The challenge has been there since the exit of Ashley Cole. Bertrand would have come close but Chelsea FC and its characterisitic impatience. Why not swap Rudiger (at least he costs 32m Pounds) for Azpi and let Azpi return to his role in a left-wing back. This also resolves the “height challenge” between Moses and Azpi on the right side of the defence, the loophole found by Dele Alli to bang two goals last season.
Alonso’s attacking quality is great but his recovery pace is worrisone. Alonso is great fit for 4-3-3 with the runs but it has been proven that his defensive capabiliities are so weak.
Cesc’s back-up is a handicap: It seems every role can be adjusted to but Cesc Fabregas has no back-up. Here is where the main proplem is. I think this is where Chelsea will struggle in the season. A Cesc Fabregas absence proves the team will lack creativity in the midfield. This is why a Barkley as a shadow CB will be good or 25-year Emil Forsberg of RB Leipzig who had 21 assists last season. Though Emil ain’t moving this season but not a single link from Chelsea.
Academy boys: The exit of Chalobah is a very painful stuff. We looked ready to play a huge part but buying Bakayoko showed lack of faith in him. You can’t blame Chelsea for looking out for players with UCL experience. I am up for keeping Christensen and Lewis Baker. I believe there’s a Dele Alli in Baker if Chelsea is patient to see it. I see folks taking Musonda over Boga but it seems team can only keep one as a backup to Hazard. I will go with Boga and allow Musonda find his flair in a mid-table PL team. He will back as a better player rather than rot on the bench when Hazard is back.
Learning from Mourinho: In the end, Conte will have to raise his tactical awareness in big games. He is known for not winning domestic cup and those games need tactical ingenuity and flexibility that produces results for the day. Mourinho is the king of this and also showed it in the Old Trafford win against Chelsea. The opposing teams have improved squads. Manchester teams with almost £200m in defence spending and Liverpool with Salah (my bet as season’s revelation). It is another battle of managerial excellence. Conte will have to be pragmatic especially in the last stages of UCL to snatch anything tangible.
P.S I am that fan of Lukaku, his raw energy and box presence puts him in the line of Drogba and Costa. I have my fears on Morata but I will wait. This is another £58m striker in a crazy transfer world. Once again, I wait.