Chelsea’s second game of pre-season under Frank Lampard, saw a change in shape to a 41212 formation, with Jorginho as the deepest of the four midfielders, something Sarri was hugely criticised for. Things are seemingly different with Lampard.
The most notable players in the starting XI were Fikayo Tomori, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham, who all had hugely successful seasons in the Championship last season. Permanent signing Mateo Kovacic also made his first appearance of pre-season, after his move from Real Madrid.
41212 (442 diamond)
Lampard employed a formation with two strikers and no wingers in the first half, something we haven’t seen at Chelsea since Conte’s last season where he implemented a 532 system. It allowed for Jorginho to sit deep as he’s accustomed to doing, and for Kovacic to have the time to find forward passes, while Mount and Barkley pressed the opposition further forward. The build up play was very fluid through the midfield, as we looked significantly better than the last game, largely due to the personnel. It was also a interesting chance to see how Batshuayi and Abraham would adapt to playing as a pair, rather than as lone strikers. Batshuayi was the more lively of the two and had numerous chances to score, which was down to the fluidity of the build up play in this system.
The play was obviously very central in this formation, which is something Lampard likes his forward players to do anyway, but I’d be interested to see how it would work if we played it against Barcelona and a stronger, more organised defence.
We saw this system in the first half against Bohemians and again in the second half against St Pats. It’s definitely my least favourite out of all the systems we’ve tried, but personnel could have had an impact on that. It does offer the width that the 41212 lacks, but it’s a much more rigid formation and that was evident in Chelsea’s build up in the second half which was significantly worse.
I’d like to see it with a stronger set of players, but I feel like a 433 or a 41212 suits the squad that Lampard has at his disposal much better. It’s an option though, and Lampard is certainly not inflexible in how he’ll set up Chelsea this season.
Stand out players
The 20 year old made his first appearance for the Chelsea first team and started on the right hand side of the midfield diamond. He was constantly running and pressuring the opposition when they were in possession, and won the ball back several times, a part of his game that developed under Lampard at Derby. His quality of pass was very evident as he made some brilliant balls from deep in midfield as well as around the box. His goal came from making a run into the box, something that has no doubt improved after a year working with Lampard, while his finish was composed and assured. Granted, this was only against St Pats, but it was an impressive 45 minutes and I’m excited to see him against stronger opposition.
Chelsea’s summer signing impressed in midfield, still technically playing as a LCM but crucially wasn’t the furthest forward midfielder, with Mount and Barkley in the team. He kept the ball moving well and made some fantastic passes, especially with his assist to set up Mount for Chelsea’s opener. This seemed like the perfect position for Kovacic. He was deep enough where he could have time on the ball and was allowed to make an impact on the game, where he was comfortable in his role. This wasn’t a case of a square peg in a round hole, which it felt like many times under Sarri with Kovacic. It’ll be interesting to see where he plays in a three man midfield going forwards.
The Belgian was impressive once more in pre-season, and had multiple shots on target, many of which were saved well by the St Pats keeper. You could argue that he should have scored, but his overall game was good and he linked up well with Abraham at times. Another player who’s started well but can only be truly judged against better opposition.
After an impressive 45 minutes against Bohemians, Gilmour followed that up with another assured performance where he clearly outshone £40m man Tiemoue Bakayoko. His flair and composure on the ball was evident once more as he started the half on the front foot. He drifted out of the game towards the end, but it’s been a very promising pre-season so far, and hopefully he’s done enough to remain with the squad for the trip to Japan.
Following Batshuayi’s good start to the pre-season campaign, Giroud made a statement with two goals in the second half. It wasn’t an unbelievable performance from the Frenchman, but another reminder that he’s a clinical goalscorer if he gets a chance. The two games so far have certainly put Giroud and Batshuayi as the front runners to claim a starting spot at Old Trafford.
The 4-0 win means an unbeaten start to life under Frank Lampard. He’s shown a flexibility with the formations, which I think will be evident throughout the season. He has his style but he’s not as rigid with his system as his predecessor Sarri.
There’s 5 games left to go and with Willian and Pulisic joining up with the team in Japan, the squad for next season can start to take shape.