Talking tactics: Blues without Costa

With the Premier League reaching its climax, The Blues have been handed a fresh blow. An early second half substitution in the game against Stoke City saw the end of Diego Costa. The hamstring injury that had plagued him during his Atletico Madrid days struck him again. Usually such injuries take a minimum of 3 weeks to cure and with clashes against high fliers Manchester United and Arsenal coming up, Chelsea would have to dig deep into their under-utilized resources and find a solution to their striking problems.

Goals have been hard to come by for the London club in the past few matches and with Costa injured, Jose Mourinho would have to look towards either Loic Remy or Didier Drogba for inspiration. Remy has been Mourinho’s impactful player as he has done really well whenever he has been called upon. However, Drogba offers Chelsea dynamics in terms of physicality. Mourinho would have to take a call whether to use these two players together or only one of them, depending on the opposition. Chelsea, currently, deploy a 4-2-3-1 formation. Mourinho has two options: tweak the formation or use the same one to utilize Remy and Drogba.

Chelsea could remodel their style of playing to a conventional 4-4-2 where Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic form the middle two and Eden Hazard and Willian out wide. This would enable them to use both Remy and Drogba as the front two. However, this approach would be quite attack minded as neither Remy nor Drogba is known for their defensive ability. This could be sorted out by either using Ramires or Jon Obi Mikel in place of Fabregas, but that would hamper the creativity. Using Oscar and Matic as the midfield could prove to be a good move as Oscar offers more defensively to the Chelsea team than Cesc Fabregas.

Another way to incorporate either Remy or Drogba is to resort to a 4-1-4-1 formation. Here the defensive shield would be formed by Matic and in front of him could be Fabregas and Ramires in the middle with Hazard and Willian wide. Remy could lead the line and Drogba could be used as a sub. This could be one of the most balanced formations that Chelsea could resort to as Ramires’ lung bursting runs could aid in attack and his stamina to track back could help Matic in defense. This could be a fruitful formation, especially against Arsenal and Manchester United. United have used a similar formation with Fellaini playing high up the field. Matic could be asked to mark him. This could nullify United’s out balls to him and in turn stifle Rooney and company in their attempt to thwart Chelsea’s title hopes. Arsenal have also used a 4-1-4-1 and Ramires and Matic could, both, be asked to stop Ozil and Cazorla with Willian working to keep Sanchez quiet. Remy could lead the line yet again.

Despite this, managers are usually quite finicky when it comes to formations. A formation that is most likely to be used is the current 4-2-3-1. What could change is that Fabregas could move forward and make way for either Ramires or Mikel to sit beside Matic. Remy could be handy with Fabregas playing further forward as the Frenchman’s runs will be well spotted by the Spaniard. Remy could use his pace to break open the opposition defense.

With just 16 points required to win the title, Mourinho needs to get his team sorted out fast. Whether he will use Drogba or Remy remains to be seen. However, with Arsenal snapping at his heels, he cannot afford to get it wrong.

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Edited By: Ojas Tripathi

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