There has been much chatter amongst Chelsea supporters in the wake of the sale of Raul Meireles to Fenerbahce, after we had already loaned out Michael Essien to Real Madrid and Josh Mceachran to Middlesborough. It seems this has left us pretty short in the deeper centre midfield positions having mainly invested in attacking players. Although there has been talk of moves for free agents Michael Ballack and Owen Hargreaves to bolster the position, it seems these are nothing more than whispers.
So what are the options now?
Well, in terms of personnel for that role, we have Frank Lampard, Oriol Romeu, John Obi Mikel, Ramires and Oscar. Realistically any of those players can play as part of the two deep lying midfielders and at the very least do a fairly decent job. But with the style of play that Di Matteo is going for this season, we need those players to do more than just a fairly decent job. They need to be our most disciplined and hard working players on the pitch.
Lampard has struggled there in my opinion, he’s been slow and far too casual. He doesn’t have the energy to get back into position quick enough and drifts forward far too much. He can do a job there, but the job he does, is not going to be good enough. His problem is he cannot make his recovery runs fast enough when getting forward.
Obi Mikel hasn’t been the most consistent player for Chelsea during his time, but to the end of last season he really hit form, he still needs to learn certain parts of his role better and can be rash in decision making, but he has improved immensely and could well be one of the two main players in there.
Romeu is a great talent and a top prospect, he is the most natural minded holding player out of the bunch, he reads the game well and is a great ball winner. For me, he is up there with Mikel for that main holding spot. He will need to stay back though and be disciplined, as he is not quick or athletic enough to change his direction to retreat in time. But he’s so good on the ball in tight spots, he will be our main holding player for years to come.
Ramires is full of energy and will never give up, he has bags of pace and is very good doing the simple thing. He’s too predictable and one dimensional to play as a right winger, so for me he needs to be the main man alongside either Romeu or Mikel.
Finally, Oscar Dos Santos is being touted for the deeper lying role, whilst I do think he can play there, I still think he is far too much of a threat going forward to keep him pinned back. I’d rather see him in an attacking midfielder role. With that said, he is full of energy and there is no doubt that his ball control, intelligence and distribution is far from good enough for him to be a class act wherever he plays.
So thats the two players for the role picked, now to the formation.
I think we need to work on using the 4-3-3 with our lack of deeper playing midfielders. If we do use the normal 4-2-3-1 then it must be either Mikel/Romeu and Ramires/Oscar in the two deep roles. But for me, I’d go with 4-3-3 to keep it tighter in the middle and allow us to be prepared for more fast paced counter attacking play, which most teams will play when facing us with our main focus being attacking. With the magnificent array of attacking talent we now have, we need disciplined tight midfielders behind who are defensively minded as well as attacking.
For me, I’d pick this team using this formation –
Azpilcueta Cahill Terry Cole
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Simon Phillips – News Editor