I've been meaning to write this for quite a while, but never got around to it - which could actually be a blessing in disguise, as, with all the talks of signings and formations recently, it's a perfect time to write this FanPost.
So anyways, since Rafa came into the team, he's made the decision to move Mata to the centre of the pitch, offering more freedom for the Spaniard, as well as more defensive stability on the wings. This, however, has come at the expense of a certain Oscar, who, you may recall, was starting behind the striker under RDM.
Since then, there have been questions over Oscar's place in the team - Mata has excelled in the centre of the pitch, earning the title of the EPL's best player from many pundits. Oscar, meanwhile, is not capable of playing on the wings, and is still not fully capable of playing in a pivot. So the question must be asked, how do we incorporate all of our stars in the one line-up?
I considered Oscar's strengths - what he likes to do, what he's good at, etc. I watched some videos, especially of his games for Brazil (where he plays in a 3 man midfield), such as those against Denmark, USA and Argentina (ignore the crude titles), as well as his matches for Chelsea against Juventus and Arsenal (playing as CAM), and there were two strengths of his game that really stood out; his willingness to track deep, pick up the ball from the defenders, before turning around and spearheading the attack from his own half (especially in the games for Brazil), as well as his ability to harass and mark the opposition's deep lying playmaker out of the game (see Pirlo, Arteta).
So, after making some notes and whatnot, I thought about two notable things about Oscar's game - he is very willing to come deep into his own half, pick up the ball from his defenders, before turning around and spearheading the attack from deep (especially when playing in midfield for Brazil), and, as we all saw against Pirlo and Arteta, he is very effective at harassing and marking the opponent's deep lying playmaker out of the game.
The problem, however, is that these two skills aren't really mutual - if he is played deep enough to be able to drop back and pick up the ball from there, he loses the ability to press from up high. Similarly, if he is played high enough to press the DLP, he is no longer in a position where he can pick up the ball from deep to dictate play, without ruining the team's structure.
So what's the solution?
While mulling it over, I thought of a new role, in a new formation, one made specifically to suit Oscar, which is a hybrid between the 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-2-1, if you will - the 4-2-1-2-1.
As you can see, Mikel and Ramires make up the double pivot which they would normally occupy. The top of the pitch is where things change - whereas normally, the wingers are portrayed as deeper than the CAM, who is given free reign, here Oscar is the one who's shown deeper, while Mata/Hazard are more compressed than they usually would be.The reasoning for this is simple;
In the RDM days, we failed to click with a 4-2-3-1 due to the inability of the wingers (Hazard, Mata) to track back and defend as they are meant to, forming a second bank of four. Due to this, once Benitez joined the club, he pushed Mata to the centre of the pitch, henceforth preferring Moses over Oscar, or, on the odd occasion, playing Oscar on the wing, where he is nowhere near as threatening.
But here's the thing - why is it the wingers who have to drop back, with the CAM being given free reign? Why can't the wingers be the ones who can roam as they want, while the CAM modifies his role, and drops back to form a bank of three, between the two pivot players, as seen here:
Oscar is capable of such a role - even in situations where he may be exchanging passes with Mata/Hazard on the far wing, or in the corner, he has the speed and stamina to make it back into position - he may not be the fastest at the club, but he's no slouch, really, and we know of his stamina due to the fact that he is constantly one of, if not the player with the most distance covered for the team in almost every game he starts.
Another thing which makes the role perfect for Oscar is his footballing smarts - I've said it before, I honestly believe that, at 21 and in his first year at a European club, Oscar already rates as one of the most intelligent footballers around. Think about it (or watch the videos linked above, if you'd like), how many mistakes does Oscar make? How many times are his passes misplaced, his dribbles unsuccessful?
I saw a comparison of Oscar to Zidane elsewhere - here's what it said:
A little while back, I wrote a long post to Zetona about the fact that playmakers, despite their reputation, aren’t really creators. You can’t really create a chance to score with a pass – you can only exploit chances. It’s the movement and positioning of your teammates, a long with the defenders, that create chances. A good playmaker is one who recognizes a chance and then tries to seize it. (To this day, Zidane is the best I’ve ever seen at this.)
Oscar seems to understand this basic principle well. He rarely tries overambitious things that can’t be pulled off. But he’s also excellent at recognizing a chance, and then attempting to seize it. Watching the replays of these friendlies, I didn’t I see a single time when there was an obvious scoring chance created by his teammates that he failed to recognize and exploit. There were a few times where Oscar should have attempted to swing the ball to the opposite flank, instead of a more conservative layoff to a teammate close to him, but this is a minor issue.
Tha's another thing about Oscar - he doesn't really choose the extravagant option much; some see this is a flaw, but I think it's part of the intelligence of his game. Just like Xavi, you'll usually see Oscar opt to play a short ball to a player near to him, rather than attempting the hail-Mary David Luiz ball into the box from halfway. He doesn't rush his plays, he's confident in what he's doing. Often, you'll see that this leads to success - if you look back to the period where we scored something like 20 goals in 5 games under RDM, you'll see that Oscar was involved in the lead up for most of our goals, often starting things with a simple pass to a player with more space than him.
As you can see here, the offensive formation strongly resembles a 4-2-3-1:
So, to cap it off, I'd like to know what you guys think - can we revolutionise the football formations, making our own hybrid 4-3-2-1/4-2-3-1? Are our players capable of this, and, most importantly, is Oscar good enough a player to rely on, to control our game, and be the main man for Chelsea?
(Oh, you didn't expect me to let you off without a couple of cute photos of this guy, did you?)