Thomas Tuchel has made a near perfect start as manager of Chelsea football club, getting 10 points from a possible 12 in the league. Despite this, it seems he is still figuring out his best starting eleven and getting to know the squad. In the coming weeks, expect a clearer idea of Tuchel’s blueprint and style that will be implemented into the team.
In his first four games, Tuchel has opted for a 3-4-3 formation. However, this does not necessarily mean this is the formation he will settle for long term. The 3-4-3 is ideal to start with, considering he has come in mid-season. The formation allows for an additional center back which offers security for a side who were low on confidence and the results speak for themselves one goal conceded in four matches. If there is to be a formation change there will undoubtedly be a change of personnel, there are a couple of formations that could be utilized and players who can solidify themselves into Tuchel’s starting XI.
The first starting XI idea is to remain with the 3-4-3. This is likely the formation Blues fans will see for the remainder of the season. That being said, Tuchel has yet to establish his front three in this style and there is also much rotation in the wingback roles.
Starting with the latter, while Marcos Alonso looks to be a rejuvenated player in his favored left wing back role it is nothing Chelsea fans haven’t since before. Alonso is an aerial threat and has great finishing however he lacks mobility, so when Chelsea come up against stronger opposition he will get found and exposed as he has done so in the past. Such defensive weakness will inevitably lead to Ben Chilwell taking the position and once he fully understands the role will be a terrifying wing back. The same logic can almost be applied to the opposite flank but with Callum Hudson-Odoi rather than him being a liability his talents would be better used as solely an attacker. Reece James will make the back the right wing back role is own.
Moving onto the front three. Despite Tuchel’s bright, start there has been one obvious concern. None of the forward players barring Mason Mount are yet to score. This is a combination of resolute defending from the opposition, lack of confidence and no consistent front three. For Chelsea to get firing again, the same three players should be given a run of games in the advanced roles. The players who should be given these roles are Timo Werner, Tammy Abraham and Hudson-Odoi. Since Tuchel’s appointment, Hudson-Odoi has been the stand out player and deserves a run of games as the right sided forward. On the opposite side Werner should be utilized, in recent matches his pace and trickery has caused problems for the opposing team winning two penalties. It seems like this is his favored position and will inevitably get scoring again. As the middle man, Abraham would be the ideal player while Olivier Giroud currently has better hold up play, Abraham’s pace offers another dimension.
This starting XI would be arguably the strongest right now. However, it could present some problems beyond this season. The 3-4-3 sacrifices an attacker for a center back and presently with Chelsea this could lead to players reconsidering their future at the club come the summer. If the formation only allows three attackers, this would mean the likes of Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic and Mount would be on the bench. This is far too much attacking talent to settle for rotation.
A formation which could be used to have more attacking players on the pitch is the 4-1-4-1. Defensively, in the short term not much will change. Chilwell and James will be used as fullbacks and Cesar Azpilicueta will most likely be dropped. Tuchel’s two favored center backs will be Antonio Rudiger and Thiago Silva.
Midfield is where things get far more interesting, this formation only requires one player who needs to dictate the ball and currently Mateo Kovacic is the man for the job. Penalties aside, Kovacic is the superior footballer to Jorginho. The four midfielders in front of Kovacic is where the magic can happen on the wings it should be Pulisic and Hudson-Odoi who can easily tear up the flanks in their favored positions. The two advanced midfield roles should rotate between Mount, Havertz and Ziyech, with the sole striker role being a battle between Abraham and Werner.
This formation will allow a lot more attacking players to be on the pitch at once and will keep the squad happy. In addition to this, it could see an influx of goals which is much needed for this side. Only time will tell what Tuchel opts for, but it wouldn’t be all too surprising if we see the 4-14-1 formation being favored by the end of the season.