Football Tactics for Beginners: Inverted Fullbacks

A relatively unknown quantity, the inverted fullback position is typically used to combat wingers that like to cut inside to get involved in the...
Ritesh Gogineni
Editor/Founder of The False 9.

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Do Chelsea need to mix it up at home?

As the weeks tick by and the business end of the season approaches, it’s becoming clear to a lot of fans that Frank Lampard potentially needs to tinker with his formation if Chelsea are to finish the season strongly and secure a top-four spot.

The side from West London was as low as 1/2 at the start of February to secure a top-four place, but ever since then, they’ve drifted to around Evens at the time of writing. A pretty good price if you fancy them to finish the season well. There are plenty of free bet offers online if you want to back them but don’t really want to use your own money. Make sure you check those out. They do have some favourable fixtures minus one or two, so their current odds look tempting.

How do Chelsea stop the rot?

It looks like the rot is their home form. It’s not been the best recently. In fact, they’ve not lost this many home games in a season since the 1994-95 season. An incredible stat indeed. To highlight their dismal home form even further, Chelsea have lost as many games at home in the Premier League this season than they did between February 2004 and November 2010. It doesn’t make for great reading, does it?

Something needs to change. The formation needs to change. It is as simple as that. The trusted 4-3-3 at home doesn’t seem to be working against most sides. A 1-0 defeat at home to West Ham. A 1-0 loss to Bournemouth. A 2-0 loss against Southampton. Another 2-0 loss against Manchester United. You don’t see those kinds of results under Roman Abramovich’s reign. Well, you do now.

4-3-3 to 4-1-3-1?

Let’s take the Manchester United defeat as an example. Their seventh home defeat of the season in all competitions. They played their usual home formation of 4-3-3:

GK – Caballero

RB – James

CB – Christensen

CB – Rudiger

LB – Azpilicueta

CM – Kante

CM – Jorginho

CM – Kovacic

RW – Pedro

LW – Willian

CF – Batshuayi

Ok, so they were missing the goal threat of Tammy Abraham, but it’s not just this game where the formation hasn’t worked. Pedro and Willian are arguably better in the number 10 role just behind the striker. And do they need three holding midfielders? Kante and Jorginho are good enough to protect their defenders. It all looks a bit too defensive. Especially at home when Chelsea should always be on the front foot.

4-2-3-1 should be the alteration. Stick to four at the back, that’s fine. Have two holding midfielders. Kante is so good that he’s two players on his own anyway. That then leaves Lampard with a choice of three a bit further forward. Hudson-Odoi could be deployed on one of the wings with his pace. Pulisic is arguably the best player on the other wing. Willian and Pedro are excellent, there’s no argument there, but Pulisic looks better suited out wide in comparison. Mason Mount’s had a high season so far, as many predicted, and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t get the nod in the number 10 role behind Tammy Abraham. Rotate Mount with Willian. Problem Solved? Well, it’s not as easy as that, but Lampard needs to mix it up and experiment a bit more. The fans want excitement at home.

How will Ziyech fit in the team?

The Moroccan Messi, Hakim Ziyech, will join Chelsea from Ajax in the summer for around £33m. The 26-year-old scored an impressive 21 goals and notched 24 assists in all competitions for Ajax last season, so Chelsea knows they’re getting a player who can score and create goals consistently. He will bring flair and excitement to Chelsea’s forward line, but where will he fit in in the team?

On the right is the answer. That’s where he’s most effective, so if Lampard sticks to his 4-3-3 formation, he’ll be battling it out with the likes of Willian, Pedro, Hudson-Odoi and Pulisic for a starting place. And at over £30m, don’t expect him to warm the bench much.

With Willian yet to sign a new contract, the personnel could all change at the end of the season at Chelsea. It remains to be seen how this season will pan out for the Blues, but a shift in formation should seriously be under consideration by Frank Lampard. You can only stick to a formation and lose for so long before the fans start to turn against you. If the formation changes sooner rather than later, Chelsea could well save their season and finish in the top four. Will it happen? Watch this space.

 

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