Why Chelsea struggles breaking down a parked bus (and Mazacar in particular)

Chelsea has had a problem breaking down fairly bad teams (even at home) all season for the last two years. Our big scores usually come late in the game, after we changed our formation to a 3-5-2, on the counter-attack, or after a set piece goal/lucky goal has started us off and forced the opposition to come out. Chelsea don't look good when they have an organised attack coming through recycled possession (as opposed to when breaking) against a set up defence.

The problem has to do with width. All our attacking players are either number 10s or inverted wingers. Thus, when we field our attacking band, and especially when fielding mazacar, our players are crowded in a small area and have no room to play in. It also means we are unable to involve our forward in our play, which is why (among other reasons) all our forwards look like shit all the time. This is ease for English teams to defend against, because they have big defenders and midfielders. It leaves our tiny midgets dancing around, not finding a way through, trying to pull off incredibly hard one tough flicks or stop the play completely and look entirely lost.

People will say "but a lot of teams play with no real wingers - inverted forwards are killing it world wide!" and that's absolutely true. In fact, most top teams utilise inverted wingers who cut in these days. The difference is that those teams rely heavily on overlapping wingbacks to provide width and startle opposition defenders. Most top teams in the world today employ fullbacks who are arguably better at attacking than defending, and end up higher on the pitch or in line with the actual wingers. If anyone watched the Manchester games this week, a lot of the goals came from wide positions where a fullback was played in or at least made a dummy run to draw defenders out. This week, Clichy in particular (although usually Zabaleta is even a better example) gave an absolutely torrid time to the Norwich defence. I will note that we fought tooth and nail (including a formation change) to get the victory at Norwich.

By contrast, Chelsea's fullbacks no longer overlap. They have ceased to provide width in the area outside the penalty area, not opting to drive to the byline to attempt a cutback. I will note that the same thing is happening for Spurs - they have inverted wingers who dont cross the ball and with the injury to Danny Rose and Kyle Walker opting to shoot or cut in all the time because he thinks he's a forward, they fail to supply their striker or score goals. We are the only top teams I know who employ the 4-2-3-1 and are not employing this.

I seriously believe that the fact that Cole has stopped overlapping (he used to be tremendous in it!) and that Ivanovic has been used instead of Azpi (/instructed to not do it) is a main reason behind our very apparent difficulty in breaking down shit teams. People might say "we have tiny players, we wont score off crosses" but that's misguided for two reasons:

  1. cutbacks work for small players too and especially because they are often on the ground and for unmarked players arriving late in the box. Cases in point: Manchester city has two tiny forwards and David Silva who killed it off cutbacks this week. Cazorla picked up a cutback/cross in the Arsenal game, and Ramsey does it every week. There are many other examples.
  2. playing to the overlapping fullback doesnt have to result in a cutback or a cross - its benefit is opening up the field of play and forcing some of the defenders to rush out to mark the wingback. this usually opens up space for the runs and could even result in a passing sequence/disarray which results in goals.

The commentator (not that they usually know anything) commented in the newcastle game that whenever Chelsea get the ball in the corner, they stop, and bring it back in short passes to the centre, killing the play and finding no way through. Whilst his notion of putting a cross in was misguided (only Torres was in the box flanked by like 3 big defenders), the play should not have been stopped and reversed - run with the ball, drive at the byline, work it in. Victor Moses did it for us last year sometimes and i thought it was very effective, except he often lacked a good final ball.
Wow. This ended up being way too long to explain a simple concept. Thanks for whoever managed to read this far. Let me know your thoughts please!

This FanPost was contributed by a member of the community and was not subject to any sort of approval process. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions held by the editors of this site.

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