The team-sheets are out for Chelsea’s big game against Tottenham Hotspur in an hour, and the home side was full of surprises.
Olivier Giroud was returned to the team after a long spell frozen out, which is what fans were demanding after Michy Batshuayi stinker on Monday.
There are also returns for Mason Mount and Ross Barkley to the starting XI, with Willian missing out despite the magnitude of the game.
Lampard worked on the 3 at the back during the "winter break" and I was expecting to see it on Monday (luckily I didn't Tweet that prediction). Given the situation, no surprise he's using it today. https://t.co/tz8GPxCgnd
— Will Faulks (@willfaulks) February 22, 2020
Ultimately the most significant switch was the formation shift to a 3421 from Lampard’s preferred 433. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the new coach use this system, but it’s been a while since he wheeled it out from the start of a game.
The squad actually spent a significant part of their “winter break” training in this setup, and there was a suspicion Lampard would use it on Monday against Manchester United.
However, perhaps due to the fact that United were going to play a similar formation, or perhaps due to the selection restrictions he had on Monday thanks to a slew of late injuries, Lampard stuck with the tried and trusted back 4, and saw his team beaten.
Clearly he’s had enough, and is considering this a chance for a final roll of the dice. There’s no shortage of reasons to give it a go – perhaps he can catch Jose Mourinho off-guard; perhaps this will suit the limited players he has let available to him better.
Maybe the biggest potential benefit is the way it will provide a fresh approach for all of the players. There is a growing feeling of desperation at the club as the team trot out to play the same system, and fall prey to the same mistakes, week after week. This change, whether it works tactically or not, will hopefully at least give the squad a new wave of enthusiasm and belief that things can go differently this time.
“Change for change’s sake” is not in the coach’s handbook, but sometimes you have to break the emergency glass and grab that little hammer.