The rumours that Chelsea are one of three Premier League clubs talking to Atletico Madrid’s Arda Turan got me thinking about the potential tactical ramifications for the Blues next season. Does this spell the end for Oscar? Or at least the beginning of a more bit-part role? We know that Juventus are keen on the Brazilian, though I’m not yet convinced that he will leave London. If we assume the Turan rumours to be true, here are some ideas about what it may mean:
- Mourinho prefers a 4-1-2-3. Remember when he spoke about trying to sign Steven Gerrard for Chelsea during his first spell? He said: “I was dreaming of a Chelsea midfield of Makelele, Lampard and Gerrard, playing in an open triangle without a 10.” I think that system is his preference, and by having Matic holding, Turan box-to-box and Cesc a little more advanced, it could be brought back to life. The only issue I see here is that without a #10, you’re relying more heavily on your wide-fowards to chip in with goals. That’s fine on the left, with Hazard. On the right, between Willian and Cuadrado, that may be an issue.
- Should the boss stick with a 4-2-3-1, I think there may be a re-jig. At the start of last season, the Matic-Fabregas axis was brilliant. Matic was protective, Cesc was proactive. However, as the season wore on, Fabregas became a defensive liability. Too often, Matic was left to cover vast swathes of ground in front of his defence. Centrally, Cesc was Chelsea’s creative maestro, but the responsibility of being that focal point as well as doing the defensive work of a box-to-box midfielder just seemed too much for him at times (you could say that he found it progressively Arda Turan – heh). Let’s say that Oscar is either sold or dropped from the starting XI. Mourinho could put Arda in that box-to-box role next to Matic and push Fabregas to #10. This would secure the side defensively and give Cesc creative control with less running to do.
- If I were a Chelsea fan, I’d feel intrigued by that last option. I was discussing it with Mohaned, and it led him to the question: if a box-to-box central midfielder is what you want, is Arda Turan the best option? Surely Vidal would be the perfect fit. Availability depending.
- I think it’s a good question, and a good point. Turan is a workaholic. Mourinho (and English fans) will love that. Nobody will ever accuse him of “stealing a living”. He has a truly excellent beard. Everyone will love that too. That said, he won’t help you win the Fair Play League. Between him and Diego Costa, Chelsea might end up with more yellows than Coldplay. He’s also spent a large part of his career playing wide in an admittedly narrow midfield four. I don’t doubt he could make the transition to a regular central spot, but why not buy someone who already spends more of their time there?
- One final thing. Is Ramires done and dusted? He’s a player I’ve always admired. Thinking about it, Ramires could do this box-to-box job that we’re talking about. He has the athleticism, stamina and work rate for the position, and his pace would add a dynamism to the middle of the park that Chelsea did lack at times last season. The question mark is, of course, that Mourinho has barely used him. It suggests a certain lack of faith. Ramires is not quite as technically outstanding as some of his colleagues, and that may be the issue. When the coach prefers – in principle – to have less possession than the opposition, his team can’t afford to waste the ball when they do have it.
That’s that, for now. Questions to ponder. Your thoughts welcome.