Analysing Chelsea’s tactics in the recent games

Mauricio Pochettino has been in place for almost a full season now, and we’ve built up a very good picture of his tactical ideas at this point.

But since arriving there have been some major changes, and some decisions which have seen him change path along the way. The overriding theme of this season has been injuries, and Pochettino’s decisions have largely been reactive to the changes in personnel available.

Nowhere is that more clear than in the role of Christopher Nkunku. The attacker was the centrepiece of the team tactically, and from Pochettino’s first matches a year ago it was clear that the side would be built around him. Preseason saw him as the key creative force, but his injury in the final moments before competitive action began changed everything. Parimatch on suddenly saw our odds of qualifying for Europe crumble in that one moment.

What the coach ultimately settled on was using Conor Gallagher as a high energy presser behind the striker. You couldn’t find two players who played a position in more different ways than Gallagher and Nkunku, but after trying and failing to use Enzo Fernandez in that role, this setup became Pochettino’s favoured one.

That then defined the midfield behind it – Enzo and Moises Caicedo are too expensive to drop, so they form the midfield. Nicolas Jackson is our only striker, and out wide Cole Palmer made the right wing his own. On the left, it was whichever of Raheem Sterling, Mykhailo Mudryk or Noni Madueke was most in form.

That was been the regular setup until Enzo’s recent surgery caused a reshuffle. We now have Gallagher deeper alongside Moises Caicedo (which works well), with Palmer moved centrally and Madueke playing on the right. Presumably, when Nkunku returns, he will play centrally and Palmer can return to his more effective right wing slot. But all of that is yet to be decided – we don’t even know whether we will see the Frenchman in action again this season.

The question of how to get Nkunku, Palmer and Enzo all in the team in a position which suits them is the elephant in the room, but fortunately it’s a question that Pochettino won’t have to answer until next season. At that point, he will have had another summer working with the sporting directors, hopefully finding solutions to other problems so that all 3 of our creative crown jewels can shine to the best of their ability.

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