Just a few days remain before Chelsea Football Club crosses the pond to begin its second consecutive tour in the United States. With a new head coach in Mauricio Pochettino at the controls, the Blues aim to use these next few weeks as building blocks heading into the opening week against Liverpool.
With transfers coming in and out, the west Londoners have completely rebuilt their attack. It makes a lot of sense considering how lifeless the team was going forward last season, scoring just 38 goals in the Premier League, fewer than both Leeds United and Leicester City, two of the clubs that headed down to the Championship.
Three out of the top-five goal scorers for Chelsea are not longer with the team. With those outgoings comes new sources of creativity and finishing in the final third. Christopher Nkunku and Nicolas Jackson are going to be at the center of this season’s offensive production. The only question remains how these two attack-minded players that both have the ability to contribute as a No. 9 up top will fit in the same formation together at Chelsea.
In five years at the helm of Tottenham Hotspur, Pochettino predominantly set up his team in a 4-2-3-1 formation. The key part about these two explosive players that combined for 26 goals throughout their respective leagues last season is their positional versatility. Jackson played across the front-three with Villareal last season in La Liga while Nkunku was used as a No. 9, an attacking midfielder, and a winger in the German top-flight in 2022-2023.
Nicolas Jackson, and Christopher Nkunku’s strengths will be best utilized at Chelsea with one playing out wide, and one positioning himself behind the striker
It is going to be about experimenting with the players that Pochettino has in training at Cobham during the tour in the United States. With David Datro Fofana now officially on loan at Union Berlin, it leaves even more space at the No. 9.
Considering the return of a player like Armando Broja, Jackson could move out wide to the left flank. While he has the tools to become a striker at some point during his career in the Premier League, his low shot volume last season in Spain may intrigue the Argentine to move him out wide to begin the season. His acceleration and elusiveness will cause problems for any wing back in the English top-flight.
The Senegalese international had just 2.3 shots per 90, and while his shots on target percentage was up to par, a normal striker would want to produce much more than just over two shots per game. Not only it is his shot production, Jackson lacks an ability to win the ball in the air consistently on crosses. With players like Reece James, and Ben Chilwell racing down the flanks and whipping in crosses, the Blues are going to need someone with at least some aerial presence.
Due to the fact that Nkunku’s offensive production has not been effected by the position in which he plays, logically the French international should occupy the No. 10 at the beginning of the campaign. As an attacking midfielder/winger, the former RB Leipzig man is in the 94th percentile in pass completion percentage. His assist numbers on top of his creativity make him the perfect fit as the conductor in the middle of the pitch for this new look Chelsea.
These next five matches across in the pond will allow the new leaders of the west Londoners to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Jackson and Nkunku lead a new-look attack, and while their positions may overlap, their adaptability allows for the two to fit in the same lineup on a weekly basis.