As club football headed into the international break last weekend, Chelsea definitely would have heaved a sigh of relief to have gotten their 4th win of the season having lost 2 league games on the bounce. Those outcomes, including a draw have seen the west London side score 13 points this term, and they currently sit 7th position on the log.
Since their woeful title defence campaign, things have begun to change. A new coach, a couple of new signings, and a group of reinvented and reinvigorated players who desperately want to prove a point, it’s looking like a Chelsea are capable of mounting a very stiff title challenge.
But despite all that, there has been a lack of a creative spark in the team. Even Conte hasn’t been able to fix that problem, and some debris of last season’s dismal outing and heavy damage still remains.
Clinching a Champions League spot at the end of the season is herculean enough, not to talk of returning the EPL trophy to the Stamford Bridge. Whichever of the 2 the team aspires to achieve, their creative drought must first be addressed, and taking these steps could do the trick.
Improve their end product in the attacking third
Amongst all the teams ahead of them on the table, only Liverpool (111) have created more chances than Chelsea (92). However, just 12 goals have been scored, 6 lesser than Liverpool’s and City’s (with 91 chances) total goals.
The onus is on the attackers, including Costa who has scored half of the team’s goals to convert more of their chances, and work on their finishing abilities.
An average shot accuracy of 47% has been recorded, a far cry from Liverpool’s 58% (league’s highest). Furthermore, only one of Chelsea’s goals has come from set pieces, while Liverpool have scored 7, highlighting the weakness and strength of both teams when it comes to making the best out of dead balls.
If the chances are not well taken despite creating a lot of them, it would amount to nothing in the end.
Come up with a near-permanent formation
Most teams have come up with a definite game plan and formation, even though they have been subject to changes whenever occasion requires and demands. But Chelsea are yet to wrap their heads around one. 4-1-4-1, 4-2-3-1, 4-2-4 and of recent, 3-5-2/3-4-3, Conte has deployed them all in 7 games.
For how long will the experiments continue? For every point dropped, the race gets more difficult, and that must be acted upon in earnest.
The team must employ a particular tactics that work to the strength of the players, and just maybe the 3-4-3/3-5-2 is the answer. But it hasn’t been established as the primary formation, and one can only wonder when a solution to that would be proffered.
Play Fabregas, regularly
It’s understandable that Cesc has had spare playing time this term due to his lack of defensive contributions, but who is the best solution to the team’s creative shortcomings except for their most creative player?
The Spaniard made 37 league appearances last season and created 66 chances (a majority which are clearcut’s). During their last title-winning campaign, a whopping 93 chances in 34 games were his doing.
These stats aren’t anywhere comparable to Oscar’s. The Brazilian has been preferred ahead of Fabregas, appearing in every league game while Cesc has missed 3. 29 chances were created in 27 league games by Oscar last term, while he created 37 in 28 the one before that.
The difference is clear. Kante and Matic’s presence means the defensive work can be taken care of while the former Arsenal skipper is allowed to express his creative abilities. Restoring him to the lineup could be the way to go if the team wants to get back to their attacking best of the 2014/2015 season.