Chelsea more than a week between last Saturday’s home humiliation at the hands of Bournemouth and this Sunday’s massive clash with Tottenham Hotspur, meaning Frank Lampard has a long time to stew over a serious tactical dilemma.
His team are struggling, quite seriously now, having lost three of what should have been among the easiest games in the division in recent weeks.
The defensive frailty we’ve seen all season was evident in these games, but what has become more worrying is a declining ability to create chances. Bournemouth should never have been in a position where a single goal would win them the game, but there they were.
Against Spurs, who are closing in fast behind us in the table, Lampard will have to decide whether to try and play a more defensive team to limit his opposition, but potentially reduce his side’s chances of scoring even further, or play in a more aggressive way that will leave them even more open.
It’s not an enviable dilemma, and in a game where a draw would actually be a very good results, he is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.
Defensive play isn’t really in his nature, and we don’t expect him to park the bus as we might see his opposite number do in a similar situation. But we do think that the team will be more compact and will not press as high as usual.
This could play into our hands, as Spurs will be encouraged to attack by the home fans, and by the tempting chance to beat us again and overtake us in the table.
Maybe the fact we can play on the counter will help us? It’s a nice thought to cling into, but it hasn’t been borne out in our games against the top sides so far this season. In almost all of them – including a 4-0 loss to Manchester United on the opening day – we’ve competed really well, but lost.
Will Sunday be a repeat of that, or can our novice manager spring a tactical surprise against his old boss? It’s not a match we’re looking forward to one bit after our recent results, but football is a funny old game, and there’s always the chance our opposition are lured into over-committing.
We just have to make sure our selection and tactics are perfectly calibrated to catch them out if they do.