Before the beginning of the season, Frank Lampard’s Chelsea were considered to be this year’s title contenders, owing to their stellar squad filled with new signings such as Werner, Ziyech, Havertz, Thiago Silva, Mendy, and Chilwell. Investing so heavily in a team and seeing it fall to defeat versus Arsenal, Wolves, and Everton, while drawing versus West Brom and Southampton, conceding 3 goals in each game, is surely a cause of concern. While Chelsea is certainly not performing badly, they are without a doubt underperforming.
So what is going wrong at Chelsea?
Chelsea’s performance in the transfer market has been lauded by many, but a more careful inspection would show that recruitment has been haphazard rather than focused. Often the club buys players based on the manager’s philosophy, but Chelsea has bought players and are making them play out of position or a different than their usual role.
A classic example is the use of Timo Werner. A look at Werner in RB Leipzig and everyone will agree that Werner thrives in 3 roles, a second striker, a false 9, and an inverted winger, flanking a false 9. The first role requires 2 wide midfielders, which Chelsea does not have, the second role requires 2 pacey inverted forwards, which Chelsea doesn’t have and the third requires a false 9 and another pacey inverted forward which Chelsea doesn’t have.
As a result, Werner is being played on the left-wing, which forces Pulisic to play out of position on the right. This set up might work if Chelsea had a false 9, but Lampard insists on having Tammy Abraham up front who doesn’t do enough to be a false 9.
Embed from Getty ImagesHavertz is a natural in a more central attacking midfield role but is often played on the wing, while Ziyech is more suited to be a wide midfielder rather than an inverted forward. Mason Mount has made the CAM role his own, which forces both the new signings to ply their trade on the wing, something they are not always comfortable doing. N’golo Kante is made to play further up the pitch instead of his usual CDM role which he was the best at in the world, a few seasons ago. Further, both his full-backs, Chilwell and Reece James are attacking minded which calls for a CDM to help out in defence.
Many of Chelsea’s victories are down to the individual brilliance of brilliant players, but the fact remains that many Chelsea players are either out of position or left exposed and it isn’t a surprise that 4 of these players are Chelsea’s new signings. While Lampard has a stellar squad in his hands, players play at less than 50% of their ability when played out of position. Just ask Antoine Griezmann and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang. Chelsea certainly cannot challenge for the title with the inconsistencies in the squad and ironically may have to dip in the market to rectify the affairs they made the last time they dipped into the market.