This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
It was perhaps one of the biggest criticisms of Maurizio Sarri’s troubled one-and-done season at Chelsea. The predictability of his famed Sarri-ball. Whether it be the team selection, formation or even the in-game substitutions that would take place, the Italian’s stubbornness for his own ideas made Chelsea into a very one-dimensional team.
Whilst it arguably led to great success in eventually finishing in the top four and securing the Europa League, there were certainly occasions where it felt like Sarri could have done with a little more tinkering, which is exactly why Frank Lampard’s early weeks in charge offer a much more enticing prospect for the Blues.
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The Chelsea legend’s arrival at the club as manager has seen the west London side revert to a 4-2-3-1, and it has produced some impressive results; most notably the victory against Barcelona. Whilst the performances still have much room for improvement (and that is to be expected with Lampard being in charge for just a short period of time), the ability to show variety and flexibility in both the formation and personnel is encouraging.
In the Blues’ thrilling 4-3 comeback win over Reading on Sunday, Chelsea started off in the 4-2-3-1 before switching to a 4-4-2 with a midfield diamond in the second half. The change in shape gave the west London side greater impetus and allowed the likes of Mason Mount in particular to truly flourish. In the end, the tactical adjustments worked its magic and the Blues clinched victory.
Having players like Mount and Ross Barkley who look just as comfortable deeper in midfield as they do just behind the striker gives Lampard the freedom to adjust his set-up based on the opposition; something Sarri very rarely did last season, if ever. The Blues no longer have an Eden Hazard in the side, who players can just give the ball to in any situation and just expect him to conjure something from nothing.
The indoor football skills in the video below have to be seen to be believed…
Lampard’s side need to be more savvy and thoughtful about the way they go about things, and the signs from pre-season certainly show that the west Londoners are getting to grips with exactly that.