Last season Chelsea supporters grew used to watching their side play in the same formation and use the same style of play, regardless of the score, the opposition, or the circumstances.
Maurizio Sarri believes in his style of football and has always said that it is the only way he knows how to play.
This is great, if it’s working, and you have the quality to implement it. One of my gripes at the time was that he simply did not have the players or quality to fully understand how to play his style of possession keeping football.
But instead of adapting to what he had, or trying something different to see a game out, or search for a late winner – he would simply just let things play out, and often unsuccessfully.
This season, Frank Lampard has used four different formations and has quite often interchanged them in matches. Including pre-season, he has flirted with the 4-4-2 (diamond), 3-4-3, 4-3-3, and 4-2-3-1.
Yesterday we saw him start with the 3-4-3 in order to suit the personnel that he had available and play a formation to suit the opposition, a Wolves side who are very good on the counter attack.
It was a tactical masterstroke, with Chelsea winning the game 5-2. It got a little unsteady near the end when Wolves had momentum after getting a goal back, but they were very close to finally getting a clean sheet this season, and that was because of the cover they had at the back when defending.
When you defend, it isn’t just about the back four, it’s often very simple. It can literally just be about the numbers you have in the defensive phase under recovery. Playing a back three yesterday against a team who can be devastating and attack in numbers, simply meant that we had a back 5 when under the cosh, which is more numbers that other formations using a back 4.
Lampard will be doing this a lot, adapting to the opposition and the players he has available on the day, playing to their strengths. He even admitted that in training they have been learning a number of formations.
This is very wise and essential for the squad he has, proving that he has a great tactical awareness and is looking at ways to stop our biggest weakness so far, leaking goals.