Frank Lampard’s Chelsea tactics

The club icon’s tenure at Chelsea has started interestingly with his return to Stamford Bridge not being how he would have dreamt of. In preseason there were plenty of goals both scored and conceded. Lampard prefers a 4-2-3-1 which he has tried to implement but at times has had to revert to a 4-3-3 similar to Sarri’s with Jorginho at the base of the midfield. This is down to his tactics not being fully bed in yet.

Lampard’s preferred formation being 4-2-3-1 is no surprise. This is down to it being the preferred formation of the manager he probably learnt the most under and had a lot of success with, José Mourinho. Despite this, Lampard is keen on an energetic press unlike the Portuguese manager. Due Lampard’s encouragement of pressing and his time at Derby with Frank, Mason Mount has been a first team regular at the start of 2019/20.

Mason Mount is very energetic and despite his age, he is a smart presser who is very dedicated and eager to impress. In the 4-2-3-1, Mount will play as the number 10 whilst in the 4-3-3 he plays as the advanced 8 in an 8/10 hybrid, on the left of the midfield three. The former Derby loanee is key to the press as he understands how the English manager wants to press the opposition.

In attack the Blues have a clear plan. In the 4-3-3 Jorginho drops back to provide a passing option for the centre backs as they try to play out from the back. Whilst this happens, the wingers and the advance midfielder will try and finding space in between the lines in the final third with the striker, Giroud or Abraham, an outlet for a long ball. This allows Jorginho or one of the centre backs to play a progressive pass to a player in space.

The wingers tend to tuck in to form a narrow attack, this requires the full backs to push up and overlap to provide width in attack. The winger will then progress it to an overlapping full back then make a darting run into the box. The overlapping full back then drills in a low cross but with Giroud and Abraham, a regular cross could also create a good chance. If the opportunity to cross isn’t there, the full back can pass backward to an advanced midfielder.

The other two midfielders alongside Jorginho vary in role. Mount pushes up and looks to profit from the knock downs from Abraham or Giroud. On the right, Kanté has a more defensive role and looks to protect Chelsea from counter attacks, however he can also push up a lot. Kanté’s role under Lampard has a lot of similarities to the Frenchman’s role under Frank’s predecessor, Sarri. These midfielders can also be used for quick interchanges in the half spaces with Chelsea’s wingers and full backs as they look to progress the ball forward quickly. Under Lampard, Chelsea have become more direct and quicker in progressing the ball into attack and they use their striker more as a focal point.

However, it is defensively issues have become prominent. This is partly down to Lampard’s more attacking and energetic approach that leaves his side more open and prone to counter attacks. This approach is very demanding physically, so it is no surprise when Chelsea fall off later in games, normally around the 70-minute mark.

Chelsea look to press quite narrowly, sometimes with Mount leading the press with the striker further back. If this first line of the press is bypassed, the full backs are to press up and/or the midfielders ahead of Jorginho covering across.

After this Chelsea mainly look to defend in a 4-4-2 or a 4-1-4-1 as they drop off and from a low block. When they are in this position, they are happy to let the opposition pass around in the middle third. However, if the ball is passed out wide or the ball is mis-controlled, this causes a pressing trigger for the wingers. Once this has been triggered, two of the midfielders will push up and try to congest the space.

Although these pressing triggers are logical and make sense, they leave gaps and create space for the opposition especially when the full backs follow their man infield. The space in the midfield and space in the wide areas as the wingers press and full backs tuck in has been Chelsea’s biggest issue. This is very prominent during their 4-0 defeat at Old Trafford. The exploitation of this space, mainly on the counterattack but also from bypassing the press effectively, has led to most of the chances they have conceded. This is not only due to the space the attackers have but also as they have Chelsea’s centre backs isolated. Lampard has to address this issue quickly. This issue is why many teams, such as Liverpool, will press with the front three and the three in midfield are back. This offers more solidity in the midfield and allows the full backs to stay in position.

Like Sarriball, these new tactics at Chelsea will take time to bed in as the players are adjusting. However, if Frank doesn’t adjust himself, Chelsea will be part of many high scoring games. Although this is great for the neutral, it may not be good for Chelsea’s results. fff

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