Chelsea vs Wolves – Chalkboard analysis.

With all due respect to Wolverhampton Wanderers, Chelsea boss Andres Villas-Boas won’t have cooled all of the rumours and speculation over his future at the helm of Roman Abramovich’s team with a win here, but it was convincing. Villas-Boas has come under fire after some disappointing results, but beyond the knee-jerk reactionaries calling for his head, there is a feeling that he has inherited a team in transition. Several key players are over the hill, and some of the younger fringe players have yet to step up and prove that they are of sufficient quality to replace them.
John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba are all over 30; and there is also some thinking that Villas-Boas will need to clear out over-inflated egos along with creaking bodies. Lampard was rested for this game, Drogba picked ahead of Torres perhaps surprisingly (or was Torres rested…?) and John Terry continued to enjoy support from his manager during the investigations into his conduct.
The Portuguese plays a 4-3-3 with a high back line and what’s known in basketball terms as a “full-court press”. This means he wants his players to put the opposition under pressure high up the pitch in an attempt to restrict attacks against them, and win the ball back in dangerous positions. Chelsea’s players have struggled with this system, and it may be the case that Chelsea were just superior man for man against Wolves, but that could probably be said for the defeat to QPR, or it could be the case that Villas-boas is now getting them to do what he asks them to.
The full-court press results in more interceptions and tackles deep in opposition territory, as seen in this chalkboard.

John Obi Mikel has been one of the more disappointing players this season, in fact one of the more disappointing players of the last few years – remember the tussle between Manchester United and Chelsea for his signature from Oslo? Sir Alex may have dodged a bullet there, he’s not fulfilled that early promise… yet.
Mikel was dropped for this game, and the young La Masia graduate Oriel Romeu brought in. The Catalan was arguably the game’s most influential player in many people’s opinion. A passing accuracy of 93% would be impressive for Xavi, let alone someone making their first senior start. He also made four interceptions and two successful tackles. A fantastic performance from Romeu to press for a regular berth in the first eleven.

Another diminutive Spaniard who made a big impression was Juan Mata. Playing high up on the left, he provided two assists and got on the score sheet himself. Mata, signed from Valencia for an undisclosed fee, believed to be somewhere in the region of £20-23 million, is looking like a top quality addition to Chelsea’s squad.
AVB strung three across the top – a combination of Drogba as the spearhead of the attack, supported by Mata on the left, and Daniel Sturridge playing right wing. Whilst Mata operated ostensibly on the left wing of the attacking three of AVB’s 4-3-3, in fact he was all over the place. Comparing his passes in the match against Sturridge, it’s clear to see which of them is the natural striker, and which of them got more involved in the play.

Romeu played very deep, in effect almost making this formation 4-1-2-3, in reality there isn’t much difference, Ramires and Meireles were noticeably more advanced – Ramires when pressing got up near Drogba on occasion.

Written by Tom Nash of The Frustrated Footballer. you can follow Tom on twitter @ffootballer 

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