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4-3-3: Relic Of A Bygone Era?

4-3-3: Relic Of A Bygone Era?

When Chelsea’s starting XI for the pre-season fixture against Brighton was announced, a few eyebrows were raised. The team looked strong enough on paper, but what had most fans a little baffled was the formation. It seemed as if Di Matteo had abandoned his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation in favour of the more conventional 4-3-3. Chelsea lost the match 3-1, & it was clear that the move had failed spectacularly.

The midfield looked slow & out-of-sorts. The high-line tactic was used by the defence, but we were unable to successfully implement it. Eden Hazard, who was the only real creative spark in the starting XI, seemed isolated on the left-wing, & was unable to influence the game in any way whatsoever. Fernando Torres often looked lost, and had to constantly track back in order to get a touch of the ball. All in all, it was a bad reminder of the darkest days of the AVB reign.

The match was a clear indicator that the 4-3-3 no longer suits Chelsea. While it was the preferred formation of Jose Mourinho (he was the one who first used it) & almost every other manager after him, it’s clear that the formation no longer suits Chelsea.

But why does the 4-3-3 no longer work for Chelsea? The reasons are obvious enough. For starters, Chelsea don’t have “traditional” wingers anymore. When Mourinho took charge of the club, he had players like Joe Cole, Arjen Robben & Damien Duff at his disposal. The fluidity of the formation ensured that these wingers were often able to get into crossing positions & whip ball after ball into the box. These crosses were met by our big centre-forward Didier Drogba, which ensured plenty of goals. But that’s not the case anymore now, is it? For starters, Chelsea don’t have anyone who can be called a proper winger, i.e. someone who will put the ball into the box time & again. Secondly, Drogba is no longer a part of Chelsea. So putting crosses into the box would be useless, as we wouldn’t be playing to the strengths of Torres &/or Sturridge.

The 4-2-3-1 suits Chelsea more. The formation works well even without proper wingers, so players like Marin, Hazard & Mata will have no problems lining up anywhere behind the striker. Torres & Sturridge will also find it easier to play in the formation, as there will be plenty of ground passes for them to latch onto.

So to answer the question I posed in the very beginning, I do believe that the 4-3-3 formation is the relic of a bygone era. 4-2-3-1 is the way forward.

#Shayne Dias

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