What is Chelsea's Plan B - Could 4-3-2-1 be the Answer?

As we all know, Roberto loves his 4-2-3-1 formation, and it has served us well up to now. My que...

As we all know, Roberto loves his 4-2-3-1 formation, and it has served us well up to now. My question is; what is our plan B when things aren't happening for us?

We obviously already have the option of injecting pace, power and direct running from the bench (in the form of Victor Moses), we also have another direct winger who is more agile and likes to cut inside to get an early shot off (Marin) and let's not forget the energetic but sometimes greedy Sturridge. But other than that, the system cannot be further modified in an attacking sense.

So what could be the solution to this? What other alternative do we have if we need to switch it up and give the opposition something different to think about?

I believe the 4-3-2-1 could be the answer.

Note - I am not saying the image above should be the definitive line up, it is merely a suggestion, plus i go into more detail about our other options below!

The 4-3-2-1 is very similar to the 4-3-3 system that past Chelsea teams have played in in terms of the midfield; it gives you an extra man deeper in the midfield so it is much better for keeping possession and controlling games. Due to it being similar, I highly doubt there will be the uncertain “bedding in period” that often occurs when new tactics are introduced.

Here are some of the things that the 4-3-2-1 formation can offer Chelsea;

Better Possession

Keeping possession to close out games has been a problem for us this season; I noticed it in the Arsenal game and most obviously against Swansea when we conceded the late equalizer. As I said having that extra man in the central of midfield will really help with controlling the game.

More central midfield combination options

We can have 3 in our engine room instead of 2, allowing for a greater variety of different skill sets in the centre, meaning we can greater compliment players strengths at the same time as adequately covering their weaknesses. An example can be seen in the suggested formation above, we have Mikel the anchor man, who offers defensive cover and accurate & safe passing, Ramires the legs of the midfield who offers all the energy and enthusiasm, then Frank the goal machine. So, Ramires is covering Frank’s lack of pace, Mikel and Ramires are covering for Frank’s lack of defensive discipline, Frank is covering Mikel’s lack of progressive/risky passing and also covering Torres’ lack of goals without getting in the way of the CAM like he did in the 4-2-3-1.

Frank Lampard’s goals

Like I mentioned above, it gives us the chance of getting Frank Lampard into the midfield without hindering our defensive shape, it allows Frank to make his dangerous late runs into the box and score those trademark goals. With Fernando not being at his best, we do need more goals from midfield, this could be a great option.

Oscar moving deeper into the midfield, whilst not being an out an out defensive midfielder

In the 4-2-3-1, if Oscar were to play deeper he would need to be much more disciplined and hold his position, therefore not utilizing him fully and not being as dangerous as he can be (feeding through the final ball and scoring goals). With Oscar in a midfield 3 (where he has played for Brazil), we can have that tempo-dictator in the middle that we have been desperately lacking so far. At multiple times this season i am sure you have seen either Hazard, Mata or Oscar often drop very deep in between Ramires and Mikel  to come and collect the ball, this is because Rami and Mikel aren't getting passes into "Mazacar" quick enough. Oscar set in a deeper role could solve this.

We can still keep our unpredictable movement in the attacking midfield areas

Mata and Hazard won’t be playing as traditional wingers by any means, they will be roaming freely as they do in the 4-2-3-1, finding space and making things happen. Obviously, as in the 4-2-3-1, our natural width will come from the full backs pushing up (as they always do in the modern game).

Other possible central midfield options;

Oscar-Mikel-Ramires = This would be a very well balanced midfield, it would be good for controlling the game, we have the tempo-dictator Oscar, the anchor man to break up play in Mikel and bags of pace and running with Ramires. Lampard instead of Oscar will offer less passing and creating prowess but more strength/steel and goals.

Lampard-Ramires-Oscar = This would be if we wanted to go all out attack, particularly if we are chasing a game, obviously Ramires will have to be more disciplined with his forward running than usual, but he is more than capable of that. We have Oscar with his excellent passing and his ability to control a game, tons of energy in Ramires and goals in Frank.

Lampard-Mikel-Oscar = This would be another very good way to set up if we want to completely dominate possession, Mikel can break up the play and play quick short pass into Oscar and let him work his magic, with Lampard making late runs into the box and scoring goals.

Note - i haven't included Romeu because he is clearly out of favor with RDM in terms of getting into the first team.

The back four

The debate still rages on about who should be starting in the defence and who creates the best combination, I will leave this one up to you, it is honestly too hard for me to call!

So Chelsea fans, what do you think?

Would the 4-3-2-1 suit us well?

Is it a good backup plan?

If not, what is do you think would be our best option for a plan B?

Leave your thoughts below.


Article by Martin Smith

Follow me on twitter @MartinSmithCFC

Carefree & KTBFFH!


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  1. I think if dis 4-2-3-1 should prove unuseful in d future,den we should go back 2 ancelotti's diamond formation dat saw us survive till january during his regime.we hv d ideal midfielders to play dat system

  2. Back four i think should be cole, terry, cahill, ivanovic 100%. Terry and Cahill have a great partnership as seen internationally.



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