Why 4-3-3 Would Be Ideal for Chelsea to Accommodate Diego Costa, Mario Mandzukic

Rowanne WesthenryFeatured ColumnistMay 31, 2014

Take note, Jose: 4-3-3 is the way forward.
Take note, Jose: 4-3-3 is the way forward.Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Last season was allegedly a transition season at Chelsea, but in reality the Blues have been in a state of transience since Jose Mourinho first left the club in 2007.

Each subsequent manager has tried to implement his own philosophy with the squad, garnering mixed results.

The preferred formation since 2011 has been 4-2-3-1, and Mourinho persisted with it last season. However, with an overhaul of the squad well underway, now could be the time to switch the tactics up a bit.

The Special One is no stranger to 4-3-3. He used it to great effect in his first spell at Stamford Bridge, with the midfield trio consisting of Michael Essien, Frank Lampard and Claude Makelele. Makelele and Essien had equal responsibility for defending and attacking, with Lampard given the freedom to make the runs that helped him become Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer.

While Essien and Makelele have long since departed Stamford Bridge and Lampard looking more likely than not that he has played his last game in a Chelsea shirt, the Blues have the personnel to make 4-3-3 work again.

How Chelsea lined up in the final game of the 2013-14 season at Cardiff City.
How Chelsea lined up in the final game of the 2013-14 season at Cardiff City.Created using Microsoft PowerPoint.

Nemanja Matic would take on the role of destroyer, a role at which he proved effective last season. Despite being able consistently to give the ball away under no pressure at all, Ramires looks to be staying at Stamford Bridge and would run interference between Matic and the wingers ahead of him.

Anthony Chapman at the Express has linked Chelsea with Paul Pogba, who would undoubtedly fit the third midfielder role. However, Mourinho should consider using one of his current players in that position before spending the £68 million that the Frenchman would cost.

Oscar was heralded as Mourinho's favourite No. 10, and he clearly has plenty of potential to fulfil this role. However, to start him in a purely attacking position would be to overlook his biggest assets: his off-the-ball work and his tackling ability.

The young Brazilian has the potential to evolve into the next Lampard, if he is given the chance.

It is not just central midfield that would benefit from a switch to 4-3-3. Many of Chelsea's goalscoring problems last season were caused by overcrowding in the middle of the final third.

Giving the central midfielders more responsibility to link up defence and attack would leave wingers such as Eden Hazard and Willian to concentrate more on the attacking aspect of their respective games, while still providing cover for the full-backs.

This freedom to use the width of the pitch would also benefit whoever is playing up front for Chelsea next season.

Diego Costa and Mario Mandzukic are both widely tipped to be joining Chelsea, per Ben Jefferson of the Express in particular, and it is easy to see where they would fit into a 4-3-3 system.

Costa is a typical striker in the mould of Didier Drogba. His finishing is particularly strong, and playing in the middle would enable him to convert the myriad of chances created by Willian and Hazard.

Mandzukic has a similar ability to finish but is also able to hold up play, making it easier for the Blues to break down defences that they found impenetrable last season.

The possible starting XI at Chelsea next season.
The possible starting XI at Chelsea next season.Created using Microsoft PowerPoint

While Mourinho has made it clear that he is laying the foundations for a second dynasty of core players at Chelsea, spending another season in transition without a trophy is not something that Roman Abramovich is likely to countenance.

Switching to 4-3-3 is the best way for Mourinho to get the necessary results while he builds another squad in his image.