Tactical mistakes and the Need for Plan B
The game against Liverpool, yet again exposed weaknesses in Chelsea's overall game strategy and I thought, the context of this game would be a good time to take a step back and review some of the tactical mistakes picked up during the game.
How Liverpool nullified Chelsea's attack - Liverpool started the game, with a 3-5-2 formation with their full-backs playing much higher up the pitch and using 3 defenders to defend against the Chelsea centre-forward, Torres, or any breakaway counter attack through the center. This Liverpool game plan forced, the Chelsea attacking trio of Hazard, Oscar and Mata to drop deep to help in the defense and most of whatever chances they were creating from the deeper positions were difficult to execute as the stronger Liverpool wide players Johnson and Enrique would track their runs and win the ball back.
It`s true, once in a while Hazard or Mata through their sheer individual brilliance would beat a couple of defenders but the game was very predictable. The inadequacies of Torres playing as a lone centre-forward for all the hard running and team work that Torres puts into the game, it is certainly clear that he lacks the ability to play as a lone centre-forward and in situations where teams would utilize the same strategy that Liverpool did, would be an useless option.
So here's why:-
1 - Torres likes to get the ball at his feet or to use the space to make runs behind the defenders. If those options are taken away, by the opposing team it has very well nullified Chelsea's attack with no other attacking outlet.
2 - In a defensive setup, that Liverpool had on Sunday; we needed a centre-forward that would make runs into open spaces, dragging the 3 defenders out of their defensive shape so that others could run into the space created from Torres runs.
3 - Poor judgment of where to position himself the few times, we attacked from the wide spaces. Most may say, we lack width but I do feel; that we do not know what to do when we have created wide runs. More than often, it is the movement of the centre-forward that makes or breaks such an attack and this is yet another area that Torres offers no solution. Neither does he pull defenders away or time his runs into areas where the wide players can put the ball in.
One dimensional strategy in the center midfield - Defensively Mikel and Ramires has been excellent in the center of the field. They break down plays, but then do the very obvious, Ramires in his case just attempting to make his forward runs and Mikel wanting to give the ball back to the first player he can find.
This offers predictability to the opposition, knowing the limited options Chelsea have through the center. This needs to be addressed and resolved as soon as possible.
Very predictable team roster, and team shape - Brendan Rogers, knew the type of strategy he was picking for this game, because of the very predictability of knowing the team De Matteo was going to field. More importantly he also knew he could change his strategy during the game, with the strong belief that Chelsea would still continue with Plan A all along. Chelsea seem to rely very heavily on the movement of Oscar, Mata and Hazard without any plan B. This is where the fundamental problem lies, with no Plan B or adequate options of centre-forward players that can be relied upon. This strategy can only get Chelsea so far, and I do feel that they cannot be strong title contenders for the Premiership, if they are going to solely depend on Plan A all the time.