Last Saturday, Brighton shocked a star studded Chelsea team with a 3-1 victory. Chelsea were simply outplayed on the counter attack causing them to pay for their mistakes.
Roberto Di Matteo fielded a formation Chelsea are not used to playing. Using a 4-3-2-1, with Michael Essien, Frank Lampard and Raul Meireles as midfielders. Eden Hazard and Ramires as left winger and right winger respectively, and Fernando Torres as a lone striker. All areas of that formation Chelsea failed to excel in causing problems all round the pitch. I will be evaluating our Defense, Midfield and Attack and point out why this formation must never be used again.
Defense: Two of Chelsea's three conceded goals were counter attacks, which begs the question why our defense was slow to track back the Brighton players. What I believe caused us to concede was the dreadful high line that was imposed by Andre Villas Boas, which ultimately led to his dismissal. Defenders use high lines to help support the midfielders and bring the ball up the field more quickly. However, in order for that high line to work, fast full backs are needed. While Ashley Cole does have the pace, it is not what it used to be, which is normal due to old age. What Ivanovic lacks in pace, he gains in strength, but in a high line defense, pace is much more important. Both counter attacks were on Ivanovic's side and his inability to run back to defense is what caused us to concede.
Midfield: Using three midfielders is something Chelsea rarely use and to see it come back against Brighton surprised me. We fielded Raul Meireles, Michael Essien and Frank Lampard. Using three in the middle made it hard to support the attackers upfront in Ramires, Hazard and Torres. Essien's lack of creativity and Meireles' inability to make a successful pass left Lampard the only one with the options to help the attack, which was evident by his goal. The lack of chemistry between the midfield and Hazard also caused great problems because Eden was not given the right service which shows his true ability. Chelsea are used to play with two midfielders with a holding midfielder in Mikel/Essien and a creative midfielder in Lampard, who support 3 players up front in a left winger, center attacking midfielder and a right winger.
Attack: The most notable area with problems for me was attack. We fielded Eden Hazard as a left winger, Ramires as a right winge and Fernando Torres as a lone striker.. The main problem for me was playing Eden as a Left Winger, as that is not his natural position. Playing wide limited his ability to create chances for Torres to score, and also limited his freedom in moving in the middle of the pitch, dictating the play, which is what he is used to at Lille. I had no problem with Ramires as a Right Winger because he hugely impressed there last season, although I would like to see him play as a center midfielder. We saw the same old Torres at Chelsea, but only because he wasn't getting the proper service, something which he was accustomed to last season.
The match against Brighton wasn't a disappointment because we lost, it was a disappointment because we still haven't figured out what formation Chelsea will do best in, and being in that position so close to pre-season is not a good sign, and with the Community Shield clash against Manchester City next week, Di Matteo needs to figure out what formation is best for the team as a whole, suiting the defense, midfield and attack. If it were up to me, this is how I would have started the team against Brighton.
I would play a 4-2-3-1: With Lampard and Hazard as center attacking midfielders.