Chelsea: Ben Chilwell is perfect for Lampard’s 4-3-3 or 3-4-3

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 22: Ben Chilwell of Leicester City holds off Mateo Kovacic of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on December 22, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 22: Ben Chilwell of Leicester City holds off Mateo Kovacic of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on December 22, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images) /

Chelsea has finally got its left back of the future. Ben Chilwell is the ideal left back to play in either of Frank Lampard’s preferred formations.

Chelsea has officially announced its third first team signing of the summer, unveiling Leicester City left back Ben Chilwell as the newest blue. The highly anticipated move comes after months of whispers linking the England international to a move to Stamford Bridge. Although the asking price was rumored at around £80 million when the season concluded, Marina Granovskaia was able to knock the price down to approximately £50 million in the weeks following.

Despite what the immature “fans” on social media will tell you about Nicolas Tagliafico or Sergio Reguilon—and the opinions they formed based off the YouTube highlight videos they watched—Chilwell is the perfect left back for the Blues.

One of the reasons Frank Lampard honed in on Chilwell from the start is because his style fits that of a fullback under the third-year manager to a tee. As the season progressed, we began to see signs of development from the interim transitional tactics used to bridge the time between Maurizio Sarri’s reign and Lampard’s takeover to a style the English gaffer eventually wants to play.

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In his version of the classic 4-3-3 formation, Lampard stresses the importance of the fullbacks joining in on the attack when in the opponent’s final third. Despite having two attack-minded left backs already, neither Marcos Alonso nor Emerson possesses the skillset needed to effectively play this way in the Premier League. Chilwell, on the other hand, is a modern day fullback.

While Alonso is one of the best attacking fullbacks in world football, his lack of awareness, poor reading of the game and inability to track back quickly have cost the Blues a handful of points this season. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some of Chilwell’s defensive deficiencies, as well. Alas, Chilwell’s speed, athleticism and build make him better suited to play the position. Further, the 23-year-old is incredibly aware of what’s going on around him at all times. That speaks to his adeptness on the pitch; another thing Chelsea’s current left backs lack.

It’s also worth noting that Chilwell is a much better option than Cesar Azpilicueta on the left side of a four man defense. The skipper shaded over to the left when necessary this season—and was formidable—but his offensive production was hindered by his poor crossing ability on his weaker foot. The Spaniard does his damage from the right side and although he’ll split time with Reece James next season, Lampard will get the most out of him in his current role.

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So, that’s part of the reason why Chilwell is a perfect fit for Lampard’s defense. Another reason why I believe this move will be so successful is because of the potential. Chilwell’s just 23 years of age. A lot of fans love to live in a fantasy world where the young players in Chelsea’s first team are finished products, but let’s not kid ourselves. Even at 23, Chilwell’s got a lot of room to grow and he will continue to get better. He’s got the mold of a Lampard left back; he now needs the guidance, practice and—most important of all—time.

That covers all the bases in terms of a back four, but what happens when the Blues play in a 3-4-3—something the manager often does in big matches? Chilwell’s a dream candidate for left wing-back too. Although it seems as if Alonso will stick around for another season at least, that’ll be the best thing for the Blues. Say what you will about the 29-year-old’s abilities—or lack thereof—in a 4-3-3, Antonio Conte showed us all he’s one of the world’s best wing-backs. This is going to be an invaluable learning lesson for the young star as he’ll get to watch Alonso excel in his craft when called upon.

Overall, Chilwell’s athletic abilities make him an ideal starter for both positions—left back (4-3-3) and left wing-back (3-4-3). He’s one of the most versatile defenders in the Premier League, he is a standout in the air and his offensive production is wonderful considering his defensive soundness. Chilwell’s awareness, positioning and willingness to comfortably take opponents on gives him a massive edge over both of Chelsea’s current options on the left.

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It’s not hard to pick out Chilwell’s flaws, but you have to put things into context. He’s a young fullback who played a different role—in the same position—under multiple different managers and with ever-changing personnel alongside him. He’s one for the future in Lampard’s eyes and the evidence we all have backs up the manager’s assessment, despite what YouTube clips expose.