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Chelsea’s Predictable Palace Predicament

30 marca, 2014

Jose Mourinho. Fot. Photo Works / Bigstock
Jose Mourinho. Fot. Photo Works / Bigstock

Perhaps the upset of the weekend - Crystal Palace shut out Mourinho’s Blues by one goal at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

The 6-0 thumping over Arsenal was seen as a perhaps a foundation for the London Club to launch themselves to the forefront of the title race. However, doubts crept in after another shocking result, this time at the cost of Chelsea. This has been a common occurrence for the Blues – where they failed against the “smaller” teams (e.g. West Brom, Aston Villa, Stoke City, and now Crystal Palace) and take the majority of points against the big guns – including taking all six points away from a rampant Manchester City side.

This is expected, when one evaluates the players Mourinho has at his disposal as well as the tactics he employs. Against Palace, he used a 4-3-3 formation; the midfield “three” consisted of Matic, Lampard, and David Luiz – this alternated with a 4-2-3-1 formation, where Lampard played in the hole behind Fernando Torres. In a defensive sense, this is perfect for Mourinho, all three players are defensively astute and can frustrate the likes of City and Arsenal with a workmanlike attitude and tenacity when set up correctly. However, when you consider that one is a centerback, another is a holding midfielder by trade, and the last one is approaching the twilight of his career, there really is a limited array of options when going forward for Chelsea.

The smaller teams can exploit this – as for the most part they all employ the same sort of tactics that Mourinho himself employs – being very solid and tenacious in the midfield and all over the pitch. There is no playmaker or box to box midfielder that can dictate the play nor that can bully the opposition in an offensive sense. The central midfield must be more directly involved with the players in front in order to break down a defensively set up opposition. What also has been lacking for Chelsea for a while now has been the absence of a world class striker. There are no consistent finishers at Chelsea that can be the difference against midtable and lower opposition. The only who has been able to do that somewhat – Samuel Eto’o – has been injured.

Therefore, now more than ever, it is clear that two primary targets needs to be pursued by Mourinho during the summer - a marquee #9 as well as a dynamic midfielder that can both make plays and directly support the likes of Hazard, Oscar, Willian, and others in front of him. It may very well be more than enough for Chelsea to win silverware next season.

Michael Skok