After starting the season really well under their new manager Frank Lampard, Chelsea has hit a roadblock.
Ahead of their crunch clash against Lille in the UEFA Champions League, Lampard’s team has issues that need to be addressed. Ever since the departure of Antonio Conte and the 3-4-3 system that he so successfully established at the club, the Blues have struggled to be effective from wide areas.
Back then, Conte’s go-to wing-backs were Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses who thrived in the three-man defence that was anchored by David Luiz. The Brazilian’s range of passing was crucial to the system’s success but following Conte’s exit, Maurizio Sarri attempted to take the squad in a different direction.
While there were a lot of reasons why the Sarri-Ball simply failed to impress, the return to a four-man defence meant lesser protection to the wingbacks and more responsibility for the wingers and this altered the roles for Alonso and Moses.
Moses had to leave the club due to limited opportunities but Alonso continues to struggle at the club. Cesar Azpilicueta, who can play on either flank, has suffered a dip in form and the likes of Emerson and Alonso have not been able to provide good quality service from wide areas.
Young Reece James has taken over at right-back and has been promising in that role but he is still a few top-tier games away from being solid. The left-back role is truly up for grabs, with neither Emerson nor Alonso being at the required level to start for Lampard this season – the Englishman has instead preferred Azpilicueta in that role.
Further forward, Christian Pulisic may not have directly replaced Eden Hazard but he has been a threat from the left, often without any support from the left-back behind him. On the right though, Callum-Hudson-Odoi has is yet to find form after his return from injury, forcing Lampard to rely on veteran Willian to fill the spot for every game. The only other option is Pedro who has become out-of-favour at the club and is likely to head out in January.
Lampard will have to make do with his limited options in wide areas to get past the immediate European challenge this week. But with Chelsea once again free to spend in January, the current crop will have to step up their game to keep their place in the team.