After an eventful pre season for Chelsea, its time to look back and identify where we have to improve as a team. With 11 goals conceded in 7 pre season games, it is clear Chelsea need a plan of action for their defense. Although Lampard’s high press philosophy seems to be visually attractive, it has notable drawbacks. This article will identify the main problems and the different ways it could be solved.
Many of the goals Chelsea have conceded came from us losing the ball when attacking and not being able to track back in time. Due to this, we usually have a gaping hole between our defensive line and midfielders. This serves as a perfect space for the opposition to choose their attacking play and find a route to score. This space is usually a result of our team committing too many players forward or our midfielders in two minds of whether to press or fall back. If they do not press, they may leave a space for the opposition to play their way out of and attack. However if they do not fall back they leave an attacking player vacant and ready to receive the ball. Our fullbacks are often also caught in the same dilemma, as their new roles carry more attacking duties than usual.
The first solution to this problem is simply to play with a higher backline. This would therefor remove the massive gap and not allow opposition attacking players to roam forward. It can also serve as an effective offside trap, although that tactic would require good communication between the backline. However, this may not be the most suitable idea as once one player finds a way through there is practically no defense left between him and the goal. We could solve this issue by having one center back deeper than the rest of the defense but this causes the offside trap to not work and also means we need a player less in the attack. This leads on to the second viable option.
Have a more disciplined and rigid midfield. This one will be tough as most of the goals we score can be credited to how free our midfield is, and by taking that freedom away we may find ourselves struggling for goals. It will also be incredibly similar to how Sarri expected us to defend too. Although this is not a bad point, either Jorginho nor Kante would be great lone CDM’s. Playing a diamond with that idea would require Lampard to change the whole lot to his tactics. Crosses would become a lot less as wingers/fullbacks would have to be parts of the required diamond, causing changes that contradict what our players have learnt in pre season.
Moving on to the final and least likely solution for Lampard, a complete formation change. This would not be something Lampard would want to do after just finishing pre season as the time for experimenting is over and winning is of absolute importance. However having said that, he will also know he is playing a somewhat fragile United squad that can be easily be caught off guard by a tactical overhaul.
Lampard may still decide to stick with his current tactics and simply ask his attackers to close down any chance of the ball being kicked forward with a more intensive high press. Either way, the Manchester United game will prove a true challenge to his tactical abilities and it will be interesting to see how he addresses this issue.