Chelsea finally tried false #9 dropping Torres and hazard played as a striker against juventus, only to lose the game 3-0. False #9 is a great tactic and although players like Mata and Hazard can fill in that role with ease, Rafa must remember that the formation needs whole lots of practice. You’ve got to try it against the smaller teams in domestic competitions, get familiar and then you’ve got to imply it in big matches. But definitely not like how Chelsea did it, experimenting against Juve in Turin in a must win game..
The good thing is that the January transfer window is fast approaching and will offer plenty of potential solutions.
The team obviously needs help in attack. It has one of the most talented midfield’s in Europe and desperately needs to equip it with a goal-scoring weapon on top. The team currently only has Fernando Torres and Daniel Sturridge. Torres is continuously under-performing and Daniel Sturridge is often injured and has indicated that he wants to leave the club. Though Torres scored twice and assisted in the last two games, it is safe to say he is far from his best and relying on him completely won’t serve any justice.
The main speculation is that Radamel Falcao will arrive at Stamford Bridge as soon as he wakes up from his New Year’s party celebration. Falcao has proven that he is an extremely prolific goal-scorer. His summer move from Porto to Atletico Madrid was always going to be a short stepping stone to one of the bigger clubs in Europe. The fact that he hasn’t been involved in their UEFA Europa League campaign so he is not cup-tied in Europe is a clear indication that the club is considering a quick cash-out on their prized asset.
In many respects the move makes too much sense not to happen. Chelsea need Falcao and have the resources to get him, while Atletico look eager to sell. Abramovich can either up front the whole transfer fee, or they can engineer an exchange to send Torres back to his former club and only pay the difference. Torres has already indicated he’d happy to go back to his homeland to try to reinvigorate his career. It would be a match made in heaven for all parties involved.
That, of course, doesn’t mean the transfer will happen. There will be negotiations, and negotiations always run a risk of falling apart because parties cannot agree all the details or there is a third party that can beat Chelsea for Falcao’s signature. Atletico might well be interested is starting a bidding war to boost Facao’s value, and Abramovich is not the only team owner with unlimited finances these days.
If Falcao’s transfer falters, Torres continues to be a shadow of his former self and Sturridge does indeed leave, Benitez will have quite the headache in attack. In those circumstances, he may opt for a desperate measure – playing a false 9 type of attacking formation. This will give him the option to fully utilize the talent he has in the center of the field.
Chelsea has a star studded midfield like no other. Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar have all shown moments of attacking brilliance this season and each one of them can act as a fake striker in the manner Cesc Fabregas is often utilized in the Spanish national team. Victor Moses, will in turn have to play a more prominent role on the wing, which he has shown he can handle in the limited minutes he has featured this season. In the last two games Benitez has also shown that he will rely on Marko Marin, another tricky midfielder who was completely out of favor under Di Matteo. Marin has come on a substitute in consecutive games, so obviously Benitez sees potential in him. Frank Lampard’s potential return to action will further increase the possible combinations.
Of course, the fact that Chelsea can play a false 9, it doesn’t mean that they will or should. There is no indication what Benitez thinks of this formation. There is also no evidence of how it will work out in the context of the Premier League – it could either be very successful by confusing opposing defenses or it can backfire by lacking a good powerful punch when attacks have to be finished. It will be interesting if Benitez will experiment with it in one of the upcoming games before January. Such an experiment might as well have implications for his decisions in January.
If the Falcao transfer does indeed falter and it turns out Benitez does indeed want a conventional striker, he does have back up options. Ba,Bony and Markovic are the few players who will be available.