Lamps Would Shine In A 4-4-2.
The traditional 4-4-2 formation has nearly gone out of top flight football. Teams adopt trendy 4-3-3′s and 4-5-1′s and shun the 4-4-2 formation that started it all in English football. The 4-4-2 was the bedrock of so many great sides, including Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United at the turn of the Premier League era and Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles. It’s a shame that it’s gone out of style, because I believe the 4-4-2 could be the answer to many of Chelsea’s problems this season.
Chelsea have been experimenting with a diamond midfield and a 4-3-3 setup, but both of those formations have come with their own problems. While a midfield diamond can be fantastic if it’s filled with the right players, it can also be very slow and compact if it isn’t. Chelsea lack a player who can float around at the top of their midfield diamond and connect the midfield to the attack – a trequartista of sorts. Without that, a side ends up trying to play the ball through a crowded, narrow midfield with very little chance of creating any goal-scoring opportunities.
Chelsea’s 4-3-3 has come with similar problems. Because Chelsea lack a few good wide players, they’re forced to convert strikers – like Anelka and Kalou – into wingers. This means that the players who should be putting balls into the box for that lone striker in a 4-3-3 setup to attack, are cutting infield and are making the play very narrow – and again, very little fluidity to the play because of the lack of connectivity from midfield to attack.
The 4-4-2, I think, solves all these problems. Here’s how I’d set it up:
Ivanovic – David Luiz – Terry – Cole
Kalou – Essien – Lampard – Malouda
Drogba – Torres
The back four remains the same, but the 4-4-2 means Ivanovic and Cole are given a lot more protection from the midfield when Chelsea don’t have possession. Malouda and Kalou will provide the width Chelsea so badly need, and Ashley Cole and Ivanovic can even overlap the midfielders if Chelsea are comfortable in possession. Yuri Zhirkov should also be considered for that left-sided berth, because defensively he’s very strong and his work rate is far greater than Malouda’s.
Michael Essien will play the ball-winning role in midfield, and that’s something he excels at. He has more stamina than Ji-Sung Park, and he puts in a great shift whenever he plays. He’ll track back, win the ball, and make a simple pass to one of Chelsea’s more creative players to start a counter attack. Frank Lampard will be the playmaker in midfield, but he’ll be required to play a little bit deeper than he’s used to. Less forward runs, more spraying the ball around – like Paul Scholes does. He can play through-balls into the wide players to put opposition full-backs on the back foot, or he can get the ball into Drogba in the hopes that the Ivorian will be able to fashion a chance.
The front two are the most interesting because they’re so similar. One of them will be required to play a deeper role, and I think that suits Drogba more. He’s not as quick as Torres, but he’s twice as strong. He can hold up the ball, he can play one-twos, and he can take long shots when the opportunity arises. Fernando Torres will spearhead the attack and look to latch onto just about everything; he’ll be the finisher instead of the creator. He always wanted that burden off his shoulders, and the 4-4-2 gives him that.
So there it is, the 4-4-2 formation and it’s return to greatness.