At the weekend Chelsea won yet again under Roberto di Matteo with a result which kept the pressure on Tottenham and Arsenal, especially considering the latter lost to QPR over the weekend. The performance was dominant although Chelsea made it much harder than it needed to be, losing 2 goals in the space of a few minutes, making a seemingly comfortable win look unconvincing. However, on the whole Chelsea looked better, especially in comparison to the reverse fixture where Chelsea lost 3-1 at home. Fernando Torres looked to improve again with a fantastic finish to put the game to bed and get Chelsea’s fourth. Overall, there were much more positives than negatives.
As we can see from the graphic below, Chelsea in the first image being the one on the right, there was a heavy reliance on going down the left hand side, Mata was central and Kalou was deployed on the right but Daniel Sturridge drifted inside constantly, being more central, rather than this being negative, it shows a system which lets the players be fluid. Contrast this to the home fixture, the second graphic, whereby Chelsea are on the left, where the midfield is static and central, Ramires, Romeu and Meireles all central. However, as we can see, Mata who is supposed to be on the left likes to drift towards the centre yet again. There is a clear shift from us being reliant on the right hand side, as shown by the first game, to the left, as shown by the away fixture.
Overall though, there seems to be a less rigid style of play based on player’s positions since Roberto di Matteo came in, especially considering the 4-2-3-1 formation which is employed, Torres is now becoming the regular spearhead of the attack while the 3 behind, in this case, Sturridge, Kalou and Mata can interchange freely with Mikel and in this case, Lampard, providing the cover for the back 4.
The 4-2-3-1 was used sparingly under AVB’s time at Chelsea, with cases such as the second half at Old Trafford proving successful however he was stubborn with the 4-3-3 formation. Since di Matteo has been brought in the 4-2-3-1 has been a constant, not only has it meant that Chelsea can be more fluid, especially with some of the attacking talent that Chelsea has, it also means a more stable defensive unit with 2 players to protect the back 4. Alongside this there has been fantastic performances from David Luiz, as well as an improvement in performance from most defenders, ensuring that Chelsea are looking more solid again. Before di Matteo came in Chelsea were staring down the barrel in the Champions League and facing a replay away to Birmingham, now they are in the semi finals of the F.A Cup and look to be semi finalists in the Champions League.
Players must take credit, however a change of formation and tactics has reaped rewards thus far. It is all still work in progress, with results against Man City and Spurs showing that, however, overall, Chelsea have improved and this can only be taken as a positive for the crucial run in ahead.