Should we return to the 4-3-3?

The 4-3-3 could be food for thought for Rafa

The 4-3-3 could be food for thought for Rafa

It was the formation that lay the foundations for success, the formation that contained the Makelele role, the formation that displayed the talent of Robben and Duff and it was the formation that gave us the majority of our success. The 4-4-3.

A formation favoured by Jose Mourinho, Guus Hiddink and after a while Carlo Ancelotti – all of whom brought success to the Bridge. After a difficult tenure under Andre Villas-Boas, the 4-3-3 was seemingly ditched after AVB’s bizarrely high defensive line and when Di Matteo came in the system shifted to the one currently deployed, the 4-2-3-1 sort of thing. This formation was bought in to provide us with more defensive stability and worked well defensively with Kalou on one wing and Ramires on the other providing protection for Ashley Cole and the great Monobrow. The system was far less defensive this season with the attacking talent of Juan Mata, Eedeen Azzaaarr, Oscar, Victor Moses and Marko Marin.

This season, the midfield formation really hasn’t helped our defence as attacking minded players have been asked to sit in front of the back four and wingers who had no knowledge of defending (yes Eden, I’m looking at you) deployed to give protection to Dave or Cole. On occasion, the formation has worked wonders – take the Arsenal game at the Emirates for example – but it has only really been when a full strength team has been played that it has been effective and I’m starting to feel that a formation change could be beneficial to our players and to our season.

Step forward the 433, the formation I believe can bring success to Chelsea.

Deploying a 433 would, I believe bring the best out of players like Eden Hazard, Ramires and Moses. In the 433, these players have less defensive responsabilty than the currently do in the 4231 which means they can cause a lot more damage to the oppositions defense. In my humble opinion, Ramires’ best games have come from being played in a 3 man midfield where he can use his endless energy to burst forward.

A return to the 433 would also see the return of a player playing in the ‘Makelele role’. Oriol Romeu showed his class under AVB when playing in a 433 as the deeper midfielder and Mikel has shown for a while now he is more than capable of playing there to a high standard. By playing this way, it enables the full backs to go forward with more cover and also allows for more attack minded central midfielders to play in the midfield as there will always be defensive cover.

Most importantly, 433 is a formation that many of the players are used to playing for Chelsea which means we should be better suited to this system. The 433 has shown Chelsea’s wingers at their best and Frank Lampard and Ramires are better suited to this system than they are to the double pivot. I have provided some pictures showing the line ups we could employ. I have done the first XI, the rotation players and the loanies. My apologies if the image quality is bad, the line ups are written in the caption going left to right.

first XI could look like this

First XI: Cech, Dave, Cahill, Terry, Cole, Obi, Lamps, Ramires, Mata, Ba, Hazard

rotation options

Some rotation options: Cech, Brana, Luiz, Terry, Bertrand, Oriol, Oscar, Lampard, Moses, Torres and Marin


Loanies: Courtois, Kalas, Bruma, Omerou, PVA, Essien, McEachran, KDB, Kakuta, Lukaku and Piazon.

As you can see there are many options for us to use with this formation and each system shows a strong team.

There is however, a mild concern.

Juan Mata. The magician has shown this season how incredibly talented he is in his natural position and a slight concern is that in a 433, he is unable to play in his favoured number-10 role and this may be an issue as he may not be as brilliant as he has been. Mata though did play in this system under AVB and at Valencia on occasion and showed his class so it is likely he’ll be just as brilliant in this system.

Personally, I do just feel that our tactics could do with some freshening up and a bit of alteration and this system could certainly be at least a plan B if not a plan A. However, contary to popular belief, I am not Rafa Benitez, nor am I a manager of Chelsea Football Club so my words here are unlikely to have any impact on our tactics. If anything, I hope that this is food for thought and I certainly believe that whatever manager comes in the summer will acknowledge this option for his team.

Your feedback is always welcome and we’d like to know your views! Leave them in the comments section below! Also let me know if there is another formation that you think would improve us!


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