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What Formation Chelsea And Thomas Tuchel Should Use For 2022/23 Season

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What Formation Chelsea And Thomas Tuchel Should Use For 2022/23 Season

Thomas Tuchel’s trusted back three has had long term success since his arrival in January 2021. But with inconsistencies creeping in during large parts of last season, questions can be asked as to whether the system should be tweaked to accommodate new personnel and to ultimately close the gap on Manchester City and Liverpool. 

"If you’re Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool or any other team with aspirations to win this title, you would fancy your chances if you finished above this Chelsea team because they look really really good," said Gary Neville on Chelsea’s 3-0 win versus Tottenham in September 2021.

Dynamic and versatile, Chelsea’s back three has become a hallmark of the Premier League in the last six years with Antonio Conte and Tuchel using the formation in four separate campaigns where the Blues have proved to become a difficult side to play against.

"We will build a team nobody wants to play against," insisted Tuchel last season.

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Chelsea have done just that, with the system being pivotal to their resilience and attacking threat. After breaking the Champions League's defensive record in 2020/2021 conceding only four goals, the Blues went on to concede an impressive 33 goals as they finished third in this year's Premier League campaign. 

Chelsea's manager Thomas Tuchel reacts during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Aston Villa. (Alamy)
Chelsea's manager Thomas Tuchel reacts during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Aston Villa. (Alamy)

One criticism of Chelsea however is the over-reliance on clean sheets in games. The Blues are desperate to improve their attacking threat, netting 23 goals less than the champions Manchester City, meaning they struggle to finish games off and suffer late on such as against Brighton and Everton.

With the disappointment of Romelu Lukaku’s performances, Chelsea have been left to pick up the pieces by fielding players out of position in false nine roles and have paid the price for the lack of an in-form goalscorer up top. The three at the back system sacrifices an extra man in midfield meaning chances are less likely to be produced with the likes of Jorginho and N’Golo Kante possessing more defensive-minded attributes. 

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Change of system?

With the return of Conor Gallagher from loan and the continuous links to Declan Rice, Chelsea could convert into a back four with three midfielders for the upcoming season. A 4-3-3 emulates the similar styles of Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola’s sides with extra players in higher positions pressing and getting touches of the ball in the final third. 

Chelsea’s highest goalscorer in 2021/22 was Mason Mount with 11 league goals, this is far from ideal if Chelsea want to challenge next season. 

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel gives instructions to Jorginho and Mason Mount. (Alamy)
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel gives instructions to Jorginho and Mason Mount. (Alamy)
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A 4-3-3 would allow Mount to adopt the number eight as a central midfielder and be the sides’ main creative outlet as new signings take up positions out wide. Mount’s creativity needs to be utilised next season alongside supporting players in the midfield if Chelsea are to level up as a unit. 

Although the three at the back formation has had widespread success in west London, it is far too reliant on the defensive aspect which isn't realistic over the course of 38 games. A change in formation will help Tuchel display his philosophy more clearly and allow his Chelsea side to become an imposing threat in England next season.

But as Tuchel pointed out, a switch in system away from the back three will depend on the personnel he has available to him heading into next season as a result of the departures of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen.

"I don’t think it’s a problem of structure because we delivered in this structure at a very high level of performance,” the Chelsea head coach said last month.

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"We are looking in every direction.

Thiago Silva of Chelsea is congratulated after scoring a goal. (Alamy)
Thiago Silva of Chelsea is congratulated after scoring a goal. (Alamy)

"I think the structure suits our players well, not only (Rudiger and Christensen) but Thiago Silva, our midfielders, and Ben Chilwell and Reece James.

"Actually, it’s not the plan to change it, but maybe we are forced to.

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"It’s no problem to adapt and find solutions."

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Chelsea, Thomas Tuchel, Premier League, Football

Reuben Rosso
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