Frank Lampard’s tactical toolbox: Four formations Chelsea can use

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LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 19: Mason Mount of Chelsea looks on during the FA Cup Semi Final match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on July 19, 2020 in London, England. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Alastair Grant/Pool via Getty Images)

Chelsea’s signings this window give Frank Lampard multiple options to line up with next season. What are four formations the manager could utilize?

Many like to look for Jose Mourinho’s finger prints on Frank Lampard’s tactics, but he shares much more in common with Carlo Ancelotti than the Special One. Lampard is not wedded to one formation or even a variation of one formation. Instead, he has a basic idea and the overall shape can change depending upon the players available, their form, and the opponent.

In his first season in charge, Lampard stuck with three formations. The 4-3-3 and the 4-2-3-1 were his main choices and will likely continue to be in the new year. The 3-4-3 was used to cope with the loss of N’Golo Kante through injury and to bolster defense.

The new signings will give Lampard increased flexibility and bring the Blues closer to his ultimate vision for the club. Three at the back has more or less been built away from (unless Declan Rice signs and some centerbacks stay that are not expected to), but it has been replaced by far more attacking variance. Ancelotti used several shapes up top during his tenure and Lampard looks set to do the same. How might the Blues line up throughout the season and what would force the changes?

1. 4-3-3

Potential XI: Kepa Arrizabalaga; Cesar Azpilicueta, Kurt Zouma, Thiago Silva, Ben Chilwell; Kai Havertz, N’Golo Kante, Mason Mount; Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, Christian Pulisic

This is the dual eights formation that Lampard started to use after the Covid break but the plan ended when Kante became injured. The two more attacking midfielders require a much more defensively minded midfielder to hold/sweep behind them and without Kante that was impossible.

This is the formation to use against opponents that are packing it in and daring Chelsea to break them down. This was a common issue last season and the main way the Blues have gone about solving it is the transfers of Hakim Ziyech and Kai Havertz. The former offers a playmaker that can create from wide and centrally while the latter becomes a battering ram from deep.

Perhaps most importantly is the ability to find space and rotate with teammates. Chelsea could rely on Ziyech finding the perfect pass to slice a defense open, but ideally the movement breaks the opponent down more than anyone pass. There should be plenty of rotation between the eights and the wingers as they move towards goals. The fullbacks should be overlapping the wingers often. And Timo Werner should be given free rein to roam while someone (most likely Havertz) fills the space that he is vacating.

Off the ball, this formation will be all about the press which is why Mason Mount finds his way in. Other than Kante, no other player really presses the way the Englishman does. His ability to rotate with Christian Pulisic and back again will also be key.

Anytime Chelsea is playing an opponent that is sitting off and trying to win on the counter, this will be the go to shape. So long as the movement is constant on and off the ball, the opponent should start to open up and give any number of the Chelsea attackers a lane or channel to cause havoc.

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