What we witnessed in the last game was Chelsea completely dominating an Aston Villa side with a comfortable 3-0 victory in the end. We started in a 4-2-3-1 fashion after last weekend draw against Manchester City, where we saw us being deployed in a 4-3-3 formation.
So what changed for Jose Mourinho? Why did Chelsea change to a 4-2-3-1 tactics against the Villans?
Here is the answer to that:
Aston Villa are a mid-table Premier League side. With all due respect to them, they don’t have the quality as compared to a team like Chelsea or Manchester City. So what would a team like Aston Villa do when they visit as difficult a place like Stamford Bridge? Surely they can’t go berserk with attacking football because that would be suicidal. Ask Arsenal, who are among the top four sides. Even the Gooners had to suffer a humiliating 6-0 defeat last season for giving us the spaces to operate. The 8-0 defeat couple of season back would still be fresh in the Villans memory.
So obviously what Aston Villa were going to do was to sit back and defend deeply with ten players behind the ball, park the strongest bus they can and hope that Chelsea are unable to move past them. They, in turn, were looking for the opportunity to counter-attack.
That’s where the change of tactics from 4-3-3 to 4-2-3-1 comes into picture:
In a 4-3-3 formation, the team has three central midfielders on the pitch with three attackers up front, while, in a 4-2-3-1, a team rolls with two pivot players three attacking midfielders and a forward.
Chelsea tactics vs. Manchester City
It was important for Chelsea to impose themselves in the midfield against the likes of Yaya Toure, Milner and Fernandinho. They all are big, physical midfielders, and we couldn’t allow ourselves to get bullied playing a pivot consisting of Fabregas. So we have to change our formation to include a Central Midfielder in Ramires alongside Matic and Fabregas to control the rhythm of the game. Ramires might not be as visionary as Fabregas in his passing, but he did provide the physical steel we needed alongside Matic against City.
Chelsea tactics vs. Aston Villa
Now Aston Villa don’t have the mindset or the quality of Manchester City. They came here to defend and to introduce a Ramires or Mikel in the midfield wouldn’t have made any sense in this case. Chelsea’s primary objective was to attack and break down the tight Aston Villa defence which required an attack minded player at the AM spot. Enter Oscar.
Oscar was dropped on the bench against Manchester City, and he was the only change from the draw last weekend in place of Ramires. Having Oscar helped us deploy a 4-2-3-1 which in turn helped us attack the stubborn defence.
Now playing one less CM against City would have been foolish, but against a team like Villa it was our best bet to score goals. We were finally able to see the same attacking and free-flowing football we have come to enjoy from the blues.
As we all know Mourinho is a master tactician and he knows how to shape our squad against different teams. He will move cautiously against the bigger teams, but there is no doubt he knows that 4-2-3-1 is Chelsea’s best bet against the lower Premier League sides.