Chelsea's squad is full of exceptional playmakers. Mata, Hazard, Oscar, De Bruyne, Schürrle. One of the biggest problems for José Mourinho is how to incorporate them into a team, and play with a style that brings out the best of them.
After watching Chelsea's games against Hull City and Aston Villa, it seems like José Mourinho is working on a team that's main strenght is the fluidity of it's attacks. The attacking midfielders are making runs to pull defenders out of position, thus creating space for their team-mates to attack.
The holding pair
In Frank Lampard, Chelsea have one of the most consistent attacking midfielders of the Premier League era. He is the all-time top scorer of Chelsea. Ramires is also strong at arriving in the box in the second wave, and finishing attacks. Mourinho asked Ramires to play in the more withdrawn role out of the two, with Lampard joining the attacks most of the time. However, it would be a waste not to use the pace and creativity of Ramires. As a result, Ramires joins the attacks when the opportunity presents itself. Lampard stays back in such cases.
|Lampard's heat map against Hull City. He made runs from deep areas, which troubled Hull's defence.|
(Image taken from Squawka.com)
|Ramires' heat map against Hull City: Ramires was the more withdrawn of the two central midfielders.|
(Image taken from Squawka.com)
But such runs are effective only if there is space to run into. Otherwise it would only congest the midfield. Like against Arsenal, Aston Villa defended tightly in midfield. In order to create the space for Lampard and Ramires to run into, Oscar moved towards the halfway line.
Oscar started both matches as the central attacking midfielder, sitting behind the striker. However he mainly moved towards deep areas. The positives of this were two-fold. First, as the playmaker, he moved towards the defence to receive the ball. Second, he pulled the opposition's defencive midfielder out of position. Hull City's Meyler found it extremely difficult to deal with Oscar's movement.
|Oscar comes deep, Lampard moves into the space created.|
The wide attacking midfielders: Hazard, Mata, De Bruyne
The role of the wide players is quite free. They move to the middle, trying to find pockets of space in midfield. In the above picture, Hazard can be seen in the middle, in the space opened up by Oscar.
The movement from the wings to central areas is hard to pick up by the defenders. It makes them decide between staying in their position, or following the movement of the attacker. If they stay on the wing, they are taken out of the game, and Chelsea have the advantage in numbers in the middle. However if the defender tracks the run of the wide attacking midfielder, space is freed up on the wing. This presents the chance for the wing-backs to push up, and attack the opposition full-backs. This was more prominent against Hull City. Against Aston Villa, Cole and Ivanovic stayed deeper to minimise the threat of Weimann and Agbonlahor.
The movement to the centre is not uncommon for Hazard or Mata. Their movement away from the wings was a feature of Rafa Benitez's Chelsea. Remember how Mata troubled Scott Parker and Tom Huddlestone with his movement against Tottenham.
|Chelsea's attacking movement under Mourinho|
Auto-tweet this article:Tweet
Previous posts you might find interesting:
Arsenal-Aston Villa: Aston Villa keep it tight in the middle, Wenger doesn't react
Liverpool-Stoke City: Liverpool fail to take their chances, but Mignolet saves the day
Manchester United-Wigan Athletic: A few points about Moyes' Manchester United
Bayern München-Borussia Mönchengladbach: Guardiola builds on the work of Heynckes