Thought I’d expand on my Chelsea preview from my debut on this week’s Fight Cock Extra Inch podcast. We tried to keep that bit brief as we didn’t want to date the episode which was meant to be more of a general tactical overview of Poch’s time at Spurs.
Chelsea’s current setup is all about separating the opposition’s defensive lines with an overload in deep midfield. Sometimes when building from the back their shape can resemble an Ossie Ardiles-esque 5-0-5.
This worked brilliantly against Manchester United as explored in this video. Mourinho’s 6-3-1 defensive shape was easily exploited. The wingers were pinned back by the wing-backs and the centre-mids were dragged away from shielding roles in front of the defence.
Chelsea could then move the ball across the deep midfield area which the wide centre-backs pushed in to. This created space in midfield which the winger/forwards of Pedro and Hazard could drop into to make passing combinations with the centre-backs to drag United all over the pitch.
Everton also suffered against Conte’s shiny new system. They tried to match Chelsea’s shape with their own back 3. Once again Moses and Alonso pushed back and stretched Everton’s giving them more of a back 5 and left Everton with only 3 lines of defence.
Chelsea were once again able to draw Everton’s midfield out into a place where they were numerically inferior before finding combinations into the wingers feet.
This is why I think it’s very important we return to a 4-2-3-1 shape against Chelsea. The 4231 is narrow which leaves Chelsea’s wing-backs unmarked but it in place it returns us 4 lines of defence. This means we can press Chelsea’s midfield without leaving pockets of space for the wingers to drop in to.
Chelsea will instead play out to their unmarked wing-backs which may cause us some problems. We will have to be very quick in shifting our pressing shape from one side of the pitch to the other without letting one of Chelsea’s 3 forwards escape.