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With just three wins in their last eight fixtures across all competitions, it’s times such as this where pressure is greater than ever for Chelsea to turn their luck around, a great responsibility of which lies with Rafael Benitez.
So far this season, the Blues have utilised a variation of the 4-5-1 formation (4-2-3-1) in order to accommodate the strengths they can boast of in midfield.
In that essence, Benitez hasn’t really sought to revolutionise the legacy left behind by Roberto Di Matteo and taken on an “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” approach, and rightly so, some might say.
However, the 4-2-3-1 tactic and the utilisation of a “false 9” is a growing trend in modern football and would appear to be the flavour of the month for many a European side. As an elite side and current champions of Europe, it’s up to teams such as Chelsea to be at the forefront of strategy, ever conscious of trends and how to outmanoeuvre them.
As the focal point of such a formation, Fernando Torres perhaps feels the sting of a tactic being sussed out more than any, marked out of the game and finding fortune hard to come by against opposing defences, as we’ve seen this season.
As a result, now might be the time for Benitez to be more scrutinous than ever and accept that perhaps it isn’t Torres’ incapability that’s the cause for his underachieving, but more that he may be a victim of circumstance.
During their years at Liverpool together, Benitez and Torres enjoyed relative success under 4-3-3, 4-5-1 and 4-4-2 formations with players such as Peter Crouch, Dirk Kuyt and Robbie Keane all helping their strike partner up top.
With Demba Ba now at the club, Benitez has at his disposal the means to craft a wonderfully gifted attack provided the two can combine well, but having the confidence to try such a risk in a time of need is a different matter all together.
Although the likes of Eden Hazard, Frank Lampard, Oscar, Victor Moses and others have been great for portions of the campaign, Chelsea’s boss might need to drop one or more in-form player in order to accommodate Torres and revive the best form of a forward once looked upon as one of the best in the world.