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How to overcome a "parked bus" defence;

How to overcome a

Many including Jose were heavily critical of Sam Allardyce and his West ham team of their tactics in their match at Stamford Bridge. That in my mind is really unfair and frankly hypocritical. We have no one to blame but ourselves for being unable to break West Ham's stubborn resistance and we better figure out how to do a much better job of this sort of situations because we are going to face that more and more as the business end of the season approaches and the bottom dwelling clubs desperately fight for every possible precious point they can to stave of relegation.

As it turns out let us not develop selective amnesia and forget that there have been times in the recent past when we too have deployed the so called "parked bus" of 0-10 formation to good effect ourselves. We will also probably see some of that deployed by us when we face City at the Etihad on Monday.

When people lament at teams parking the bus when we play them and blame the opponent they seem to conveniently forget that we are not the only ones who face this situation. The gunners have got the points record they have so far by consistently being able to open up stubborn defences. They have hardly failed to claim maximum points thus far from most of the bottom dwellers and so too have City. Barca, Real, Bayern , PSG and virtually all the top clubs in the top leagues all over Europe face this conundrum of what to do about the packed bus so what can we learn from them and how are they able to navigate this challenge? I submit below the 5 keys to beating a parked bus and in discussing them you will see why Chelsea in particular at present struggle so mightily against this strategy of play.

1. True width and pace; To beat a parked bus defence you must stretch it out and get behind it quickly. To do this you must have at least one if not two true wingers who are willing to take on full backs and hug the touch line, get to the byline behind the defence and then cut the ball back behind the defense line into the 18 yard box. City excel at this because they have a true winger in Navas and top class attacking full backs in Kolarov, Zabaleta and Clichy who gleefully bomb forward and can actually cross competently. For us the only player we have prior to the Salah signing who remotely fits the description of a winger is Schurrle. None of our fullbacks add that much width to our play and there are so precious few crosses made that are even half decent. Because the crosses of any use come in so infrequently there is often no one there for us in the 18yard box on those few occasions that a competent cross is made. Willian, Hazard and Oscar all tend to play as wing forwards who narrow the field of play and are always preferably trying to cut inside where the parked Bus is generally stationed and waiting for them.

2. Quick transition from defence through mid field to the attacking third. Liverpool are one of the best examples of this. Anyone who watched the Liverpool-Everton match would have seen this in action. Everton killed Liverpool as far as possession stats but it counted for absolutely nothing because Liverpool played the counter attacking game to the hilt. Once they (liverpool) got the ball in their half within 30 seconds flat it was in the Everton half with one of Sterling, Suarez or Sturridge to devastating effect. The key to quick transition is having a central midfielder who is adept at the Regista role and is capable of making the defence splitting carpet or aerial pass in the twinkle of an eye. This requires vision and the requisite skill. Of our central midfielders Lamps is the one with the best set of skills in this respect. That he was on the pitch for only about 20+ minutes in the West Ham match was part of our problem unlocking that defence. Ramires, Mikel and Matic (for the little I have seen of him thus far) have very little of the skill set required for this and when we compare what we have in this respect with Yayadinho at City or the sort of game Stevie G played for Liverpool yesterday this is another reason why we continue to have major struggles breaking down parked buses.

3. Quality in set play delivery; This is critical because whenever a team plays with the parked bus they will as a consequence give up corners and free kicks in around the 18 yard box. Occasionally, especially when the attacking team has the required forward running pace and ball to feet dribbling skills of someone like Suarez, Sturridge, or Arguero the team parking the bus may even concede a penalty. That was evident in City getting a PK today and Liverpool getting one yesterday. For us the only player who meets that profile of guile and pace is Hazard but since we have next to no pace anywhere else in our final third and since we are always trying to go through the middle rather than the flanks he has so few chances to use those skills to earn us PKs. Furthermore, our delivery on corners is generally so woeful that our prior strength in tall goal scoring defenders like Cahill, JT, Luiz and Iva has largely been negated this season. Finally we have so little quality available on free kicks it is lamentable. It is noteworthy that in the FA cup game against Stoke again at Stamford Bridge we only got out of jail because of one moment of set piece brilliance from Oscar or we would have been facing a replay of that tie. That Oscar free kick is only the second free kick goal the team has this entire season in all competitions!!! Contrast that with City who have Kolarov and Yaya Toure as consistent real goal threats from free kicks or Liverpool who have Gerard and Suarez as their free kick snipers. Without consistent quality in set piece delivery both from corners and Free kicks in the final third the team parking the bus can continue with impunity to foul and hack the ball out of play with no consequence and right now Chelsea has very little threat offered from these situations.

4. Quality in the final third; This means finishers who don`t have to take 2 -5 touches within the 18 yard box before pulling the trigger. This means having players who can actually shoot and force the opposing keeper to make a save rather than ballooning the ball over the bar or wide either left or right. This means having finishers who know a thing or two about ball placement in the 18 yard box and not just shooting tamely at the goal keeper. This means being clinical when opportunities actually present themselves rather than fluffing chance after chance and/or missing glaring sitters. Basic translation; this means having forwards in form as regards quality in front of goal. City have at least 3 of their 4 designated strikers who meet this criterion right now. Liverpool have two in Suarez and Strurridge. The closest thing we have to this is Hazard whose primary job description and positioning is however not as a striker and honestly based on finishing instincts I still feel our best pure finisher is Lampard who now has only a bit part role for the side and again is not a striker by positioning either. This is a major deal and Jose has decided to gamble big time by putting of addressing this glaring deficit till the summer. Based on this alone I honestly don`t think we will win the BPL (I hope we do but I am a realist enough to separate wishes from harsh reality). What we must hope and pray is that the profligacy of the players we are trusting with the one (and very occasionally two) striker position our typical formations entail don`t end up costing us a top 4 finish eventually because that is not a foregone conclusion just yet. Let us remember that we got booted out of the Capitol one cup for example because of the ineptitude of the striker we had on that day against Sunderland.

5. A bit of luck that shows itself either as a deflected shot that ends up in the net, a hand ball that gifts the attacking team a PK, an own goal or an awful tackle or other temporary loss of cool that gets the team with the parked bus down a man thus meaning less bodies and thus more space to exploit. This bit of luck however tends to occur far more frequently for teams who have solid elements of the other 4 items above which then places so much pressure on the team parking the bus that eventually they slip up and make a mistake. ManU last year enjoyed this so much last year it was uncanny. They probably got the equivalent of close to 12 points just from this and the "assistance" of dubious refereeing decisions. Knowing Chelsea we should just assume we will hardly ever have this sort of luck except once in a black moon. The time we had so much "luck" with RDM is over so I wouldn`t hold my breath for much of this.

The key to beating a team with a parked bus is scoring that first goal and getting it early in proceedings. Once that happens the 0-10 formation will necessarily have to be loosened a little to allow the team try and steal a goal to get back on even terms and it is in that effort that such teams become vulnerable to conceding even more. Till that first goal is scored though, it will be business as usual. I hope Jose has some bright ideas how to improve our team to cope with this nuisance because we will see it more and more as we move towards sesason`s end and it appears that unless something changes rapidly in the last 2 days of this transfer window we are not getting any further player reinforcements. It is time for the special one to instruct his wards as to the tactical changes that must be made if we are to secure maximum 3 points when teams deploy a parked bus against us.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Thursday January 30 2014
Time: 1:38AM


Another solution is not to play Mikel. Whilst another is play a LB in the LB position and a RB in the RB position. Then maybe the fullbacks will be useful. As a LB Azi never goes forward but as a RB he's a lot more effective. I understand why we played Iva today but tbh we could have played him CB, because it's not like Cahill is irreplaceable. Also bring Ba on earlier
30/01/2014 01:50:00
Is it that we didn't create chances or we didn't finish up those chances well? What if we had a register who gives that long pass or a true winger who stretches play a cuts inside,what happens if we are unable to finish those chances?prior to nasri's injury,city used silva and nasri on the flanks,they aint true wingers that hugs the touchline,yet city still scored a lot....for me the main issue is to improve our finishing,everybody has to improve on that, from the defence to the strike force especially the strike force needs to improve on our finishing..39 shots,9 on goal is too poor in my opinion ...even when we play teams that don't park the bus,we miss a lot of chances also..Imagine stoke,we created lots and missed lots and ended up winning 1-0
30/01/2014 02:01:00
Also I must say nice article and I will say we are struggling against these teams that park the bus and we don't score much like city and liverpool does because we aren't clinical enough...
30/01/2014 02:04:00
omg, i laugh at you clowns. jose does the same thing at the emirates and at OT and its call it brilliant. west ham (bottom 3) does it at the bridge and you blast them. what a farce and a joke you clowns are. jose got everything wrong tonight. mikel starting over matic. lampard not starting vs west ham who he almost always scores against. moving ivanovic to lb. are you kidding me. now he's crying about west hams tactics. get over it you hack. i'm sick of it. mata is the exact type of player you need vs a defense like that. you can't unlock a defense like that with just fast players who can defend. i love oscar...but he's no mata. what's a mata jose...*****ed because you got a dose of your own medicine. cry me a river you clown. all you jose apologist are just as bad as he is. roman...please...for the love of don't build an F1 car and put a nascar driver in the seat.
Eric Clarkson
30/01/2014 02:30:00
Well it isn't fatal but we definitely blew a good chance to overtake Arsenal but we can at least close the gap by beating City and then taking advantage of the City-Arsenal to overtake one of them.
30/01/2014 03:44:00
I just hope something happens here. This needs to get figured out one way or another. Personally I think we need to start practicing more kicks outside the box. We need to have a set of players who can strike from outside the box and truly make the keeper work.
Pavel Permiachkin
30/01/2014 03:48:00
You saying 19 century football?? You have no shame to say stupidities. Your football Mourinho is horrible not even 19th century. Your way to manage your players are from the circus in the Roman Empire. You got the wrong idea that “Roman” Abramivich was an Emperor and you his circus Manager. Your fault Mourinho. Mourinho swears players like him...After what he has done to Mata I am sure everybody will kick his as at the first decent opportunity. I mean Luis, Hazard etc. Am I wrong?
Joseph Porto
30/01/2014 04:31:00
Calm play like City do wins games.
30/01/2014 04:52:00
Feckin hell. We are 3! points behind league leaders. Calm the feck down.
Strapping Blue
30/01/2014 06:19:00
begone where you came out from you strangers!! never mind arsenal is bound to drop to third place soon enough and manU will have to make do with fourth and that's if they can sign suarez and sturridge away from liverpool too. lmao
30/01/2014 07:11:00
@Gabeu, nice write up but the game is beyond detailing out what to do in certain situations. There are days when things just do not align for you. you might as well park the train another day but the goal will still arrive even in the last minute (remember iniesta's goal?) and sometimes the luck of everything going against a team or lionel messi missing a penalty might just be what you need to win or earn a draw. We were already on a streak of 6/7 wins and it was just a matter of when the winning streak will stop in this fast paced and highly demanding BPL.Its just so unfortunate it happened at a time arsenal had to drop point. This coincidence can happen.
30/01/2014 07:23:00
Mourinho must learn to praise good students. Inter Barca, E'to played RB
30/01/2014 07:38:00
Gabeu, straight points there. How did we not thrash-crash the spuds? : oh! We have no strikers. Aguero? Negrido? Suarez ? Even sturridge and jovetic are miles ahead of what we have.
30/01/2014 07:47:00
cant believe jose is complaining about west ham game the same he is doing against big team...its tit for tat are the one who plays 18 th century football with the squad of 20 th century...cant believe why useless player like mikel who is a complete waste of space get chance game after game rami who is an athelete and doesn nothing yaa he has good work rate but when it comes to creativenss, passing, first touch, scoring goals shooting on target he is very very poor...iva on rb is useless but still he is played there inspite of having a good azpi who has been wasted on lb...jose tactics of using this player again and again is unbelievable....he is stuck in a rigid zone...he should come out this...when you play rami mikel pivot you are wasting the talent of front three...its high time that mikel should be sold still underdeveloped and rami should be on the bench not on first team....till this thing wont change we will always face the pivot issue..
30/01/2014 07:49:00
I don't want to blame a single player for yesterdays result but as pointed here, there is a need to change play quickly forward when possession is gained. Mikel isn't able to do that and he never has. We have Lampard, Luiz, Ramires and Matic now who are all better in this and should also be considered ahead of Mikel. If Luiz can keep his cool, he isn't a bad deep midfield player because he is constantly trying to press and win possession and he has a very good vision of play. He finds players with good long forward passes.
30/01/2014 07:58:00
No one is complaining about West Ham packing the bus. what we are moaning about is our poor finishing. IMO Nickel starting was wrong. Magic or Luiz would have been a better option as they had no one in the middle. Schurlle and Ba should have come on in place of Eto and Oscar but hindsight is 20-20, right. If we had put those chances away, twould be a different story now. Looking forward, Ba and Veto won't be with us next season. Lukaku is coming back so I would really love Costa to join and if possible move Torres out and get Insigne or Cerci in to add a different dimension to our game. I'd also let Bamford play in some games as he looks pretty decent and I don't see why he can't play in the first team soon.
30/01/2014 08:01:00
please please please, can we just leave mikel out of this?? we win and loose as a team. we have won many games with him in the team and the draw can't just be because of his inclusion. Don't be too quick in looking for whom to blame.
30/01/2014 08:10:00
For the first time I agree with Shlok. Mikel must be sold for a proper deeplying playmaker like kroos. And as for ramires, he kills possession. Ivanovic the least said the better.
30/01/2014 08:10:00
Crazy, Plastic fan always looking to blame Mikel or another player when the team didn't win. How pathetic.
30/01/2014 08:27:00
mikiel isn't the problem its just playing him at home against cannon fodder is! we don't have to play with a CDM at home in these games! lamps/oscsar should have started in the pivot with 2 strikers up front. it shows in tent and shows we are there to score as many goals as we can.
30/01/2014 08:45:00
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