Chelsea Tactics and Transfers: Developing well does not mean all is well

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 18: Frank Lampard, Manager of Chelsea shakes hands with Kurt Zouma of Chelsea following the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on August 18, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 18: Frank Lampard, Manager of Chelsea shakes hands with Kurt Zouma of Chelsea following the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on August 18, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images) /

Chelsea won 5-2 against Wolverhampton. They displayed a more solid grasp of the things that were already worth celebrating this season, and a little progress on those things that are not.

Few things in this world are truly self-evident. One is that if you were one of those miserly, non-believing and racist goons who did not believe in Tammy Abraham or felt it correct to chastise his obvious talent you are a subspecies we cannot, at this point, declare completely human. Tammy Abraham is a bright spot, a spark, a star in the sky burning with more lumens than a thousand suns.

His hat trick on Saturday rounded out one of the most complete performances ever seen from a young player. Over the course of the game he showed exactly how wonderful of a prospect Chelsea have on their hands.

He also joined elite company in Premier League history: only Cristiano Ronaldo and Dele Alli had scored three goals in one game so young. Fantastic company, indeed.

Abraham’s performance against Wolves demonstrated why the Didier Drogba comparisons, though flattering, are a tad lazy. He has a very different style of play and is much more akin to Jurgen Klinsman or perhaps Ian Wright. The German and English center forwards were exactly the sort of quick finishers in the box that Abraham is proving to be.

We must, however, not pile pressure on the young lad. He is a good prospect, but he must keep his head down and work hard. Nothing in football is given and many players have started their Premier League careers brightly only the fade away. Adrian Mutu rings a bell in that regard. Tammy Abraham has the potential to carve his name into the rocks that hold up The Shed, but he must endeavor to do so daily.

Three-man defense the right decision

In switching to Chelsea’s preferred three-man defense that proved so fantastic under Antonio Conte and has been adopted favorably throughout the whole since, Frank Lampard is also showing great acuity as a manager.

With the squad Chelsea have, a three-man defense makes the most sense. Conte saw that quickly and Lampard sensed much the same. It was only Maurizio Sarri’s peculiar perception that self-glorification took precedence over winning on a coach’s resume that deflected Chelsea’s course over his not short enough tenure.

Generally speaking, a three-man defense best suits Chelsea at the moment. They need more help defensively and none at all going forward. As they lack the ability to outclass teams with defensive talent and nous, additional bodies are simply necessary.

It is nice, I admit, to have been proven right once again in my view of Cesar Azpilicueta as the new Javier Zanetti. It seemed odd to me that many people decided he had no chance at all to play as a wing-back despite having proven an incredible ability to learn nearly every position on a football pitch.

3-4-3 may be a temporary fix but not a long-term solution. light. Read

He struggled mightily in recent games as the last line of defense on the the right side, and thus having a right-sided center-back behind him was fantastic. We should also note his crossing and interplay have improved mightily. He’s a phenomenal player and the sort of character worth enduring throughout the shakier time.

And though Reece James will be back soon, he has managed to somehow improve markedly while not even playing, simply because of people’s desires for him. Odd that, given his rather large lack of football.

If James and Azpilicueta split the right wing-back duties while Azpilicueta also deputizes as a right center-back as he did under Conte, there will be more than enough minutes for both of them.

Rotation will open up the wingers

The 3-4-3 will suit Christian Pulisic, who has been a little hard done by various ratings.

The mark of a good player is how they handle themselves on the pitch and whether or not they are able to affect the game despite a poor performance.

Pulisic has wonderful playing habits. Despite sometimes being unlucky he never stops making a genuine effort for the team. He notably always makes the unselfish and correct footballing decision and positions himself accordingly. Though sometimes the pass does not come off, he is caught out or something else goes wrong, his mental game is very strong and incredibly admirable. This, along with his pace and effort, makes him dangerous and also creates chances for those around him. Even if they are not the sort that can be counted statistically, he always makes a nuisance of himself and refuses to go quietly.

With Pulisic on the right and Azpilicueta behind him adding some more conservative play and positioning while still threatening with deep crosses, Chelsea are well positioned on that part of the field.

Willian, who played in Pulisic’s stead on Saturday, did not make the most of his opportunity. He can be excused for it as he’s still working his way back. Lampard will continue to pepper the team with experience, which means Willian – as one of the older heads in the squad – will continue to pop up. Either he or Pedro will likely start against Valencia, with Pulisic then returning for the next Premier League match.

Still work ahead on defence

All that said, the defending is still as much a worry as always. Antonio Rudiger injured himself yet again. He makes such an impression simply with the character he communicates to the side that his absence was immediately noticeable.

Kurt Zouma replaced him, and continued to leave this particular viewer pining for the Zouma of old. I like Kurt Zouma.I will give him more chances than I would another less likable player because of it. I think he’s a valuable squad member and a good player. He hasn’t covered himself in glory, however, which is a shame.

Zouma, remember, is a full French international and was one of the 10 defenders of the season last year for Everton. But he may be too eager to prove he should remain now that his odyssey has brought him back to Stamford Bridge.

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He is nervy, indecisive and nowhere near the sort of dominant player he was on the way to being even a year ago. Somewhere inside him there is version of Lillian Thuram screaming to get out, but it appears as far away as ever.

If his performances don’t improve very soon, especially with the emergence of Fikayo Tomori, his Chelsea career may well be something of a bright yet wistful memory sooner rather than later.

The other issue that Rudiger’s injury presents is Chelsea shuffling their backline yet again. The Blues still have no idea who their best defensive unit is. They will continue to shuffle, making life ever harder for Kepa Arrizabalaga in the process.

The Spanish goalkeeper has received an unfair amount of stick this season. In almost every instance he has made the initial save or at least put something on the ball to keep it out of the net. But the very obvious lack of kinship with the defense lets him down every time.

Chelsea have an unbelievable amount to feel good about from this match. Wolves are not in good shape at the moment but they are a talented side. The youth players are showing that they aren’t good simply against teams they played in the Championship last season, but actually deserve to be here.

Next. Academy free to produce more than loans and disillusionment. dark

They will inevitably face the slump that youth and tired legs lead to, but things are looking up at Chelsea even if many of the usual concerns remain.