Chelsea

Chelsea FC: Depth Not a Problem Despite Departures of Essien and Meireles

MUNICH, GERMANY - MAY 19:  Chelsea players celebrate with the trophy after their victory in the UEFA Champions League Final between FC Bayern Muenchen and Chelsea at the Fussball Arena München on May 19, 2012 in Munich, Germany.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Stefan GouyetAnalyst ISeptember 5, 2012

On Monday, Chelsea announced that Raul Meireles had left Stamford Bridge to join Fenerbahce.

While the Portuguese international was never the most liked or consistent player at Chelsea, his departure has caused many Blues fans to react in negative ways.

On England's transfer deadline day, Sunday August 31, Michael Essien was loaned out to Real Madrid. At the time, the move of the Ghanaian was seen by many Chelsea fans as sad, not as a bad decision by Roberto Di Matteo.

However, just one day later, many opinions have been changed. The two transfers, of Essien and Meireles, when combined, have raised questions about the depth of Chelsea's midfield.

The Londoners now only have Oriol Romeu, Frank Lampard, and John Obi Mikel as defensive midfielders, while Ramires can play there if needs be.

Ramires, under Di Matteo, has mainly played on the wing so Chelsea only have three real central midfielders to play in the two defensive midfield positions in the 4-2-3-1 formation.

Most Chelsea fans probably wouldn't have been bothered too much if only one of the two players, Meireles or Essien, left this summer. It's the last-minute departures of both midfielders that has annoyed fans.

While I agree that it was not the smartest of decisions for Chelsea, there is no reason to be worried. 

Both Mikel and Romeu are young and always fit, and both are capable of defending well. Neither of them have great attacking ability but they are good options in defensive midfield. Frank Lampard will probably not be able to start more than 25 games this season but, when he is fit, he remains one of Europe's finest midfielders.

Right now, all three players are fit. Nonetheless, there is always a fairly high chance that Lampard is injured. And I don't think too many Chelsea fans would be happy having Romeu and Mikel partnering each other for more than three or four games in a row.

In this case, it would be wise for Di Matteo to deploy Ryan Bertrand or even David Luiz next to Mikel. We've already seen Bertrand used in the defensive midfield position and he hasn't disappointed. David Luiz has never played outside of defense for Chelsea, but it may be a good idea to try putting the Brazilian higher up the pitch.

There's no hiding behind the fact that Chelsea have a fairly small team. The Blues have 23 players on their Premier League roster, four less than what they had last year. 

While they have less depth in their team than many of the top European clubs, it shouldn't be a problem for the Blues. All 23 members of the squad are established players who have proven their worth in the past.

In the end, it'll be a matter of how versatile Chelsea's players can be. If any of the Blues' midfielders get injured, Roberto Di Matteo will need his team to step up and change positions. 

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