Chelsea can target Adama Traore’s defensive frailty against Wolves

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This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…

Chelsea face Wolves at Molineux this weekend as they look to kick-start their season and the possible appearance of Adama Traore at right wing-back is an area the Blues can potentially exploit.

On the chalkboard

Normally, Matt Doherty would be the obvious option to start on the right side of the defence for Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves team.

However, the Republic of Ireland international has recently had surgery following a knee injury and, while he is hopeful he will be 100% fit after he sat out his country’s recent fixtures against Switzerland and Gibraltar, a game against a side of Chelsea’s quality may just have come too soon.

The 27-year-old was already unavailable for Wolves’ last clash, against Everton, which the Toffees won 3-2. In his place was the former Aston Villa man. His defensive frailty is a weakness the Blues can exploit.

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A winger out of position

The 23-year-old is a La Masia youth product, and he has made his name as a wide man. However, his end product has been erratic, to say the least. He has so far scored just one goal for the Midlands club and completed just 0.5 crosses per match last term.

In the absence of Doherty, therefore, he has been utilised by his manager in a different position, that of right wing-back. He is not the first to see this change to his role: Victor Moses did so to great effect as Chelsea won the Premier League under Antonio Conte in 2016/17.

However, defensively, Traore does not seem to have settled into his new role. So far this season, he has an average of 0.7 successful tackles per match, which puts him towards the bottom of the list among his teammates, whilst it is a similar story in regards to his 0.3 interceptions per game.

Against Everton in that last match, his heatmap shows he spent a considerable amount of time above the halfway line, despite his opponents having 59% of possession. He also allowed Lucas Digne to have too much of the ball, especially in Wolves’ own half – no-one on the pitch had more than the former PSG defender’s 83 touches – whilst he lost Alex Iwobi when the Nigeria international scored his side’s second goal.

Therefore, the Blues must target Traore.

While it is not yet clear whether Mason Mount or Christian Pulisic will start on the left-wing or indeed Marcos Alonso or Emerson at left-back, all four have enough offensive threat to cause real problems.

Espirito Santo has said that they are “building a player” in regards to the former Middlesbrough man. That transformation is not yet complete and, as such, Chelsea can take advantage.

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