After the defeat at United on Sunday, along with the positives about how we approached the game and how we attacked United , I am just wond...

After the defeat at United on Sunday, along with the positives about how we approached the game and how we attacked United, I am just wondering if we have stumbled across the death of Chelsea's 4-3-3 formation that we have been stuck with for years?.

The basis of our successes has been our tried and trusted 4-3-3 formation and I think before the second half on Sunday, everyone knows it's our preferred formation.

Carlo Ancelotti tried to change it to a 4-diamond-2 formation in his own mould but that never worked so we have been stuck with it.

There is an argument that the players we have at the club are suited to 4-3-3, especially the ones that have been here since Jose Mourinho's time here. Of course we are talking about the likes of Essien, Lampard and Drogba and Malouda.

It's been the system that AVB has started the season with as again, we lined up with the same formation against United in the first half of the game like this:

This has been the trusted formation for years. Lampard and Ramires have licence to push forward while Meireles is asked to sit deeper. Mata and Sturridge are asked to get forward and support Fernando Torres up front. Pretty much what we are used to, right?.

Well, after going in 3-0 down at half time and knowing he needed to take the game to United, AVB may have pulled off a master stoke by stumbling across the formation that will finally lay to rest our 4-3-3 formation.

Frank Lampard was replaced by Nicolas Anelka and immediately the formation changed. Meireles was moved to left of centre with Ramires dropping in next to him right of centre but, still having licence to get forward.

Anelka came out wide left but pushed forward and Sturridge remained out wide right. The big change was seeing Juan Mata come and play in the "hole" behind Fernando Torres who remained as our focal point of our attack. Chelsea switched for a 4-2-3-1 formation like this:

Now some people call that negative by playing two holding midfielders but in a sense we were never doing that. Rather than look to our three forwards in the 4-3-3 formation, we now have four forward players to attack the opposition with Juan Mata free to play in between the lines which is exactly what he and AVB have been talking about ever since he came here.

Ramires and Meireles had a licence to get forward as long as the other sat in and protected the back for but from a deeper position. The change had an immediate affect on the game. Mata picked up the ball in the middle of the pitch and played out wide to Anelka. Torres made the run in behind and Anelka slid him in through on goal and he finished with a world class flick over the advancing De Gea.

Look here and I'll explain again (sorry about the quality but can only get still shots due to copyright).

So in the photo above Mata has picked the ball up and played a pass wide left to Anelka. Ramires has seen Meireles push forward ahead of play so holds his position. Meireles has made a run forward ahead of Torres looking for a ball forward from Mata that never came, Sturridge is holding his position to spread their back four across the width of the pitch and Torres is getting forward.

Now look what happens:

Firstly look for Raul Meireles. He sees his run has been ignored as the others push forward, so he turns to get back into position. Danny Sturridge has made a move in field from out on the right wing. Ramires is still holding his position. Ashley Cole has now appeared going beyond Anelka giving him an option down the line. Mata has got the other side of Anderson and is looking to get forward along with Fernando Torres.

Now watch what happens:

Anelka chooses to come inside. Cole stops his run but still is an option for Anelka. Meireles now holds his position and is a second option for Anelka. Look at Juan Mata, he realises he needs to provide Anelka with another option so he too stops his run to give him a third option. Torres is looking to make eye contact with Anelka to give him a fourth option of a through ball and finally Sturridge also pushing forward to the edge of the box one on one with Evra provides Anelka with a longer FIFTH option.

Now we move on to finally see the result:

Looking at that still shot you would think United were lined up quite well but the pass was fantastic and has taken four United players out of the game in an instant. Cole has given up his run but has forced Chris Smalling further back. Meireles is no longer in the shot and is now not an option Anelka is looking for. Mata is breaking from the hole beyond United's midfield for anything that is half cleared in and around the box. Sturridge is now busting a gut to get in the box and as we all know, Fernando Torres is through on goal beyond the last defender with the type of service he loves and scores a fantastic goal.

Do you see what I mean now about our formation and the role people adopted in the second half. It looks similar to the 4-3-3 but is very different and nearly changed the game for us if Nando had scored his second.

City have tried this formation once or twice but have been called very defensive or boring with it, but the way we seem to adopt the formation for me just by looking at that goal and the still shots, is very encouraging.

The important thing is that finally had plenty of options for the man with the ball at his feet. Like I said when Anelka picked the ball up and looked up he had FIVE options. I can't remember that being the case lately with our 4-3-3 formation can you?

The other plus point with this formation was moving Juan Mata into the middle of the pitch in behind Torres. I know he hasn't been here long but already you can see the benefit of him playing in the middle. He can pull the strings there, bring players into the game or play that killer ball we have been crying out for.

Fernando Torres was put clean through twice in the second half which let's face it is unheard of in his Chelsea career so far. This formation will suit Torres with the three players supporting him rather than two either side of him.

The big question with this new found formation of ours will be the central two midfielders. Can Frank Lampard play there? Of course he can. Let's not turn this into a debate about Frank. We know Meireles and Ramires can play there, can Mikel, Romeu and Essien? Of course.

The dilemma will be if we mix up those two in the middle. What I mean is, do you play one defensive midfielder and one box to box midfielder or two of the same?

It's an exciting time being a Chelsea fan right now because we are seeing in front of our eyes finally a change in our formation built upon giving the front four positions freedom to express themselves and to attack.

I just hope this is something we stick with in the weeks to come and build on for the remainder of the season as I believe we will see the likes of Mata, Torres and Sturridge come to life. We have already seen the signs, let's hope it's RIP to the 4-3-3!.


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  1. I read ur blog and i just must say that was a fantastic one too.Its exciting times for Chelsea as a football club and its supporters.The highlight of AVB's ability is infact is ability to drop anybody at anytime! Gone are the days when we can all predict Chelsea's 11 so accurately.As it stands, only Cech is safe!I read ur blog and i just must say that was a fantastic one too.Its exciting times for Chelsea as a football club and its supporters.The highlight of AVB's ability is infact is ability to drop anybody at anytime! Gone are the days when we can all predict Chelsea's 11 so accurately.As it stands, only Cech is safe!




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