Football season is knocking at the door, with the Community Shield curtain-raiser between Premier League champions Manchester City and FA Cup winners Chelsea due to take place this weekend. After their unprecedented success last season, Chelsea have moved swiftly to strengthen the team in the summer transfer window but have faced problems in the pre-season. The amount of importance that the defeats against AC Milan, MLS All-stars, and Brighton warrant is debatable, but there’s reason enough toAi??closely observe how things transpire in the game against City.

Formation and Tactics

That 4-2-3-1 is Roberto di Matteo’s preferred formation is no secret, as was evident in the second half of last campaign. Chelsea have also, more often than not, taken the field in a similar system in pre-season. However, the results haven’t been even remotely similar, with Chelsea looking fairly lackluster on the field. There are enough reason behind the less than optimal performances by the Blues, but looking from merely a tactical point of view, there’s one major difference this term.

While using this system last season, di Matteo preferred defensively solid, tactically astute players out wide in the final third. Kalou has left, Malouda isn’t good enough, and although Ramires is still present, Chelsea are looking to add an attacking option for the right-wing. Even though Mata, Hazard and Marin are superb options in the final third, neither of them offers the same kind of protection like Kalou or Ramires.

Hence it’ll be interesting to see what the manager does against a team as strong as Manchester City. At the same time there’s no pressure, so to speak, in a Community Shield game, so will Chelsea still approach the game defensively or will di Matteo give his players the license to thrill?

Chelsea

Chelsea

What can we expect from Roberto?

Chelsea

Is a change in formation on the horizon? Will Chelsea deploy two strikers or an inverted midfield triangle with a solitary defensive midfielder? Will the manager play a system that best suits the talent available to him? Or, will he continue to stick to the tried-and-tested?

Performance of Fernando Torres

Didier Drogba has left. Meanwhile, Fernando Torres is the only established centre-forward at Chelsea, and has meanwhile won the Golden Boot at Euro 2012 despite playing a peripheral role in Spain’s triumph. This season, or perhaps till January, will surely be the Spaniard’s final chance to resurrect his stature in world football.

The transfer window is open till the 31st of August, so Chelsea will look at his performances in this match against City and in two subsequent fixtures in the Premier League and based on that, may take a final call if they are confident enough to go into the new season relying primarily on him to get them goals. What he does on the pitch may turn out to be the difference between a versatile (right-wing, striker) signing such as Moses or Hulk and an out-and-outAi??centre-forward such as Cavani.

Positions of Juan Mata and Eden Hazard

Oscar notwithstanding, Chelsea have twoAi??phenomenally talented players, who both prefer to play in the central attacking midfield role. Juan Mata was signed from Valencia last summer and he adjusted to life in the Premier LeagueAi??superblyAi??to play a defining role last season. Although he’s capable enough to play on either wing, he’s most effective while playing behind the striker. Eden Hazard, arguably one of the most talented young player in the world, was signed from Lille amidst strong interest from all top clubs in the world. He also, like Mata, can play across the final third, but prefers to play through the centre.

Towards the end of last season, Mata appeared tired, having started majority of matches for Chelsea so a creative cover for him wasAi??desperately required. Chelsea, however, brought more than merely a cover. Hazard is a world-class player who will start for the club more often than not.

Presently, Mata is tired because of a prolonged summer while Hazard may need some time to settle in England; so initially di Matteo mayAi??shuffleAi??between the two of them. However, after a while both of them will warrant a start. Although the players are capable of swapping positions while playing, it’ll be interesting to keep a close eye on their starting position, if both start against City. Although a single game is an extremely small sample to generalize, the position in which each of them starts may give us an idea of where the manager’s preference lies.

Right Wing

If Chelsea indeed operate in a 4-2-3-1 system, they’ll have three options for the right-wing (RAM), assuming Mata and Hazard will take the LAM and CAM positions – Ramires, Daniel Sturridge, and Marko Marin.

Ramires was di Matteo’s first choice, especially in bigger games at the end of last season. His defensive skills, coupled with his speed on counters not only helped Chelsea keep the opposition full-back in check but also offered an incisive advantage while breaking forward. Ramires, however, isn’t a good passer of the ball and his crossing ability isn’t spectacular either.

Now, City is a tough team but the match isn’t a big one. So, who the manager fields this Sunday is anyone’s guess. Neither Sturridge himself nor the manager has been too inclined towards him starting on the right-wing; centre forward is where his heart lies.

That leaves us with another new signing at Chelsea, i.e. Marin. In his career, Marko has played on either wing and is known for his dribbling skills and for his ability to beat defenders in a one-on-one situation. He is expected to offer Chelsea an option from the bench whenever his skills are the order of the day or start against lesser teams. So the right-wing is another position which is far from settled presently, and deserves to be kept an eye on. However, irrespective of who starts this weekend, we may see a reinforcement arrive sooner rather than later.

First Choice Centre-back Partnership

The usual suspects for Chelsea in the centre of defence are John Terry, David Luiz, Gary Cahill, and Branislav Ivanovic. At some point this season, Terry may be banned by the FA for a few games; David Luiz hasn’t performed all that well in pre-season thus far, while Cahill has become much more than a squad player since his move to Stamford Bridge. Ivanovic is also the first-choice starter at right-back, so he is clearly the fourth choice in the centre. Moreover, the Chelsea defense has leaked in goals liberally thus far in pre-season.

Out of three possible partnerships, i.e. Terry-Luiz, Terry-Cahill and Luiz-Cahill, which one would be first choice for di Matteo is debatable but we may see more of the Luiz-Cahill pairing than usual, as Chelsea many shuffle between playing their captain and preparing for life without him this season. Ai??So, this is another position to keep an eye on not just this season but also through the first half of the campaign.

It’s not like all positions and aspect with respect to Chelsea are unsettled, as there are quite a few certain starters on the team, especially against Man City. Petr Cech will start in goal, while Ashley Cole and Branislav Ivanovic will be the full-backs in all likelihood. Ai??The double-pivot is expected to comprise of the first choice pairing of last season, i.e. Mikel and Lampard.

The Community Shield is only an extension of pre-season for big clubs, but generally managers end up unraveling quite a few mysteries before the Premier League begins. The case may be no different for Chelsea and Roberto di Matteo against Roberto Mancini’s men in the curtain-raiser this Sunday.

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13 Responses to “Chelsea FC – Performance of Torres, Position of Hazard & Mata Amongst Potential Highlights In The Community Shield Clash Against Man City”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Finney says:

    Good post i hope mata marin nd haxad make torres as hot as fire dis season

  2. Akinpelu,Nigeria says:

    This is the best and only last chance for Torres to show his goal-scoring prowess and class.Chelsea fans like me want to see goals,goals and goals.Wake up or walk out Torres!

  3. Godswill says:

    If am to choose the players to face city it will be the following:
    cech
    ivanovic……….cahil……terry…….cole
    mikel…….lampard
    mata………………harzad……….remires
    torress.
    But if oscar will be around i will love to prefer him than remires.

  4. Mebor says:

    Good post….i thnk mata n hazard r 2 playerz needed in the centre just behnd a striker as far as wingerz r concern i thnk we shud sign moses he is a fantastic winger has got speed, tricks etc…

  5. Austine chelsea says:

    i think they can try both mata and hazard in the hole at the same time in a 4-3-2-1 formation,that will hard to conside goals.and our three fwd will sucede

  6. Okiinny says:

    Cech,iveno,cola,luiz,cahil,essien,lampand,mata,hazard,ramize,torres

  7. LAD says:

    CECH
    IVANOVIC,CAHILL,TERRY,COLE
    LAMPARD,RAMIRES
    MARIN,MATA,HAZARD
    TORRES

  8. pakzi says:

    @ Lad, your formation seems to be the best out the rest! Ramires should be converted to a DM and not a winger but with his speed and strength he can overlap at times! People don’t seem to notice the quality of marko marin, I watched all the preseason games and I must confess, partnership between hazard and marin yeilds barca style of play, my formation will be “cech, ivanovich, terry,luiz, cole, ramires,lampard(if oscar isn’t available), mata,hazard,marin and torres

  9. Emem idem 4rm cal says:

    I prefer cech,cole,cahill,terry,ivans,mikel,lamp,hazard,hulk,mata,torres 2 start

  10. isaac ace caasi bwalya says:

    its been gret readin ths and ma squad for the FACS
    P cech
    B.ivanovich G.cahil J.terry A.cole
    F.lampard J.O.mikel
    J.mata E.hazard ramires
    F.torres
    subs would be
    J.mata out V.moses in
    ramires out M.marin in

  11. adex, nigeria says:

    dis is my formation , cech ivanovich cole cahil luiz mikel lampard mata torres hazard ,subs marko marin in ramires out ,torres out lucas in[ if torres is not inform ]

  12. AO says:

    Great article. I think the biggest issue right now is Ramires. Out wide is not his strength. In a double pivot, he doesn’t seem to fit in. I think he absolutely has to be on the pitch for me. The 4-2-3-1 formation simply does not have a place for him in my eyes. Playing him out wide on the right in that formation might be an astute tactical move from time to time, but we need to find a way to integrate him into a permanent role in a 3 man midfield. We have an embarrasement of riches in the AM positions. I guess it could be a worse position to be in, but I don’t want any unhappy players in the dressing room. Sooner or later major decisions will have to be made in regards to the futures of those players and I can’t help but feel that trying to integrate that many new players into at most 3 available positions will be a defining issue of Di Matteo’s reign. Hazard and Oscar obviously have to be afforded time to play and develop. Roman spent all this money to win. I look at all the great pieces, and I am happy. Clearly its rebuild 2.0 but without upsetting the big names in the dressing room just yet. I hope that results from this project are good enough to allow us some stability in the managers office this year. P.S. I love this website.