Thursday, 6 August 2009

09/10 Season: Chelsea

How can you replace Guus Hiddink after the end of season form of Chelsea??

Well you bring in one of the most respected managers in the game.

But wait, haven't we been here before? Chelsea reach the Champions League final the previous season, top quality international manager arrives for the start of the next campaign, sacked midway through the season, temporary manager flown in for the rest of season.

Carlo Ancelotti will be hoping to dispel any thoughts that anyone is having (well, thoughts that I am having) about whether he can adapt to the Premier League. Pre-season form has been good. The squad are playing well. It's looking good so far for Chelsea.

The problem remains that Chelsea are looking to the same player each season as their star man - step forward Frank Lampard (again!).

Ancelotti's insistence that a diamond version of the 4-4-2, with Lampard at the top, means that Chelsea's talismanic midfielder's goalscoring responsibilities may be curbed slightly due to the prescence of two front men. In the past Chelsea have consistently played a variant of the 4-5-1 / 4-3-3 formation to great effect.

It will be very interesting to see if the Italian's gamble pays off.

Another interesting point to consider is the role other members of the squad will play now that a whole new system is being introduced. With a 4-4-2 diamond formation, width must come from somewhere and I cannot think of an established right winger in the Chelsea squad. Yes, Salomon Kalou can play there, and hopefully a fully fit Joe Cole can play there too, but they decided against a permanent deal for Ricardo Quaresma of Inter Milan so they could be left wanting in that department.

Although I would expect the versatile Essien to fill that role, Ancelotti couldn't live him out, surely?!

With the potential arrival of Andrea Pirlo from AC Milan, it leaves a lot to be desired for the other midfielders of the squad: Ballack, Deco, Mikel and new arrival Yuri Zhirkov. Handling a top superstars ego is a must in the modern game. He did it at Milan and I would fully expect him to be able to handle the superstars at Stamford Bridge.

Up front and in defence Chelsea seem fully equipped, with a two quality players available for each position.

It is the midfield and possibly the formation and tactics used that could do with a rethink...

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