The Trouble With Chelsea's Diamond
The diamond midfield formation has been the central change to Chelsea since the arrival of coach Carlo Ancelotti. For the most part, this new formation has been a success and has led to a higher scoring Chelsea club than we've seen in the past.
However, there have been games that have seen the midfield disappear. This has happened twice in the past week against Atletico Madrid and Manchester United. The disappearing act forced Didier Drogba to put in a heroic effort against Atletico and create two goals for himself. Against United, Chelsea eked out a result via a set piece.
The biggest question of the diamond is that of width. Many pundits continuously say that the diamond congests the middle of the park. It's a fair argument, however Chelsea's full backs have been more than capable of going forward. Ashley Cole is amongst the best left backs in the world and arguably the best going forward while Branislav Ivanovic continuously found himself involved in advanced positions.
Rather than a lack of width, the real problem with Chelsea's diamond is a lack of consistency. Ancelotti has tried any number of combinations this season but has finally seemed to settle on Michael Essien and John Obi Mikel at the heart of the diamond with Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack and Florent Malouda possessing the wide positions. A good group of players who can rotate through minutes in order to survive a lengthy season.
However, Ancelotti has yet to decide who will man the attack of his diamond, Joe Cole or Deco? Cole has looked brilliant on some occasions and has disappeared on others. Deco, meanwhile has shown very little in his actual play. His value lies in his ability to see the game and make the right passes; he's done that all season. However, his body seems to be letting him down as he's been the culprit of countless passes that just seem to miss their mark.
Ancelotti was able to do so much at Milan without the same depth of talent available to him at Chelsea because he had stellar play from his attacking midfielder, Kaka. For this formula to be successful in West London, Ancelotti needs to get more from whoever he places in the attacking role.
Joe Cole is still young, hungry to earn a place with England for World Cup and possesses all the attacking flair and skills a manager could ask for. Deco, on the other hand, is 32 with speed that matches his age, three years removed from his prime and an unimpressive, albeit short, history in the Premier League.
Ancelotti needs to get some sort of consistency in his diamond and it starts at the attacking position. As of right now, the case could be made for either Deco or Cole, but if Ancelotti is thinking about the future of Chelsea, he will start Cole on a regular basis for the remainder of the year.
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