Chelsea has traveled to Japan with 24 players and Christian Pulisic meeting the team there. What does the roster say about Frank Lampard’s plans?
The Blues have touched down in Japan for the second part of their preseason. 24 players traveled with Christian Pulisic joining Frank Lampard’s side in country. Some players left behind were not able to get visas in time, others were injured, and others are on the verge of a loan.
What can be learned from looking over Lampard’s travelling squad?
Breaking it into bite sized pieces to find a formation
Positions are by their nature fluid but it is still possible to cluster players by the group they most likely go in. Lampard has brought two players for every position, plus one extra striker, midfielder, and keeper.
At first glance, that does not say a whole lot. But it does hint at certain formations over others. For instance, the defenders brought screams at a back four which makes a lot of sense given what Lampard has already rolled out with this season as well as last season with Derby County.
But ahead of the back line is where things get fuzzier. Lampard has already used three formations in four halves of football this preseason with only 4-2-3-1 showing up more than once. The roster itself does not give many clues as to what formation Lampard will ultimately use the most because of the wingers.
Kenedy, Kasey Palmer, Pedro, and Christian Pulisic can all be categorized as wingers but they could also easily fit in somewhere else. Kenedy started life as a striker before gradually finding himself on the wing (as a fullback, a wingback, and a winger). Palmer can play wide but could also be called a 10. Pedro has almost always been used as a winger but he is likely comfortable anywhere on offense (leaving Antonio Conte’s experiments at wingback and center mid aside). And Pulisic can play on either wing but can also play as a 10.
Any of these players could feature on the wings in a 4-3-3. They could show up in a 4-2-3-1 in any of the spots on the band of three. And in a 4-diamond-2, at least three of them could play as a “striker” or behind two actual strikers.
Lampard has more flexibility outside his roster than is immediate apparent. With Callum Hudson-Odoi and Willian both out injured, Lampard may (and very well could) be leaning towards wingerless solutions.