How Chelsea’s Midfield Will Line Up For the 2012-13 Premier League Season

Andre Villas-Boas’ project may have been cut short prematurely, but the spirit of the Portuguese’s plans has remained. The summer transfer window has seen the departure of three veterans and the injection of young, talented midfielders.

Just a year ago, Chelsea were seen as an aging club severely lacking in creativity in the center of the pitch. With the additions of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Marko Marin, Kevin De Brunye (who has now been loaned to Werder Bremen) and Oscar in the last 12 months, the Blues have done a complete 360 in that regard.

In addition to the players mentioned above, Chelsea have Frank Lampard, Michael Essien, John Obi Mikel, Ramires, Oriol Romeu, Josh McEachran and Raul Meireles on their books, making for a crowded midfield. So how will manager Roberto Di Matteo keep everyone in the dressing room happy?

Luckily for Di Matteo, both Mata and Hazard, arguably the squad’s two most talented players, can play anywhere across the band of three attacking midfielders in the Italian’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation. But those two playmakers offer very little defensively, with each averaging just .7 tackles per game, according to To make up for that lack of defensive help, Di Matteo will likely field Ramires, and his 2.8 tackles per game, in the right midfield position, a role he thrived in last season.

Marin offers a more direct approach than both Mata and Hazard — averaging just 12.2 passes per take-on compared to 48.5 and 22.6 for Mata and Hazard, respectively — and may be better served as a super sub when the squad needs an injection of pace and directness.

That leaves Oscar as the odd man out, but with Chelsea playing for a whopping seven trophies in the upcoming season, the young Brazilian playmaker will have plenty of opportunities to play, whether it’s in the middle of the attacking midfield trio or in a holding role alongside a more defensive player. Oscar has been compared to Luka Modric, and may bring on a natural change of shape, depending on where he is deployed. If fielded in the number 10 position behind the striker, Oscar’s tendency to drop deep will change Chelsea’s shape to something not unlike the Spanish national team’s, with the Brazilian playing in Xavi’s role. If he is deployed in a holding role, Chelsea may look more like a 4-1-4-1 when in possession. Either way, he will offer Di Matteo a plan B, if needed.

In the two holding roles, Di Matteo will like likely stick with the duo that combined so brilliantly down the stretch of Chelsea’s Champions League run: Lampard and Mikel, with Miereles and Essien spelling those two when needed. That leaves Romeu, who performed admirably under AVB but was largely left out of the side under Di Matteo. The young Spaniard’s appearance may be reduced to domestic cup ties. It may behoove Chelsea to loan out McEachran once again, after the teenager struggled to get playing time on loan to Swansea last season and did not the breakout Daniel Sturridge enjoyed with Bolton the season before.

If Chelsea are done adding players to their squad, they will be equipped for the long season that lies ahead, especially in the center of the park. The depth of the squad should help the team avoid fatigue later in a season in which they will compete in five competitions in addition to the Community Shield against Manchester City and the UEFA Super Cup against Atletico Madrid — not to mention the African Cup of Nations will see the team lose both Mikel and Essien for up to a month. While a gift, the depth can prove to be a curse; with so many quality players, Di Matteo will have a hard time pleasing them all.

28 thoughts on “How Chelsea’s Midfield Will Line Up For the 2012-13 Premier League Season”

  1. I support chelsea and if god says we shall arrange our line ups of the EPL so we have alot of midfielder we are going to select who can play every where I wish chelsea to win EPL,champions leage and FA cup insha allah

  2. Gaffer dude
    When are you gents playing to start back the podcast…Its getting boring man with no Football podcast going on…at least get on the mike and BS around. Also can you pls ask kartik to either fix or switch to diff VOIP service…he keeps weaving in and out, frustrating to listen…and lastly pls ask him to stop making predictions about Liverpool…last season at the start he predicted we had best stacked midfield and we got f”ed. We don’t need more bad luck as we have plenty off it already…Thanks

  3. I prefer
    De rest at de bench. Sale lampard,malouda,essien benayoun,if possible ferreira.abeg

  4. As long as you play Cahill it wont matter. You will concede more goal this year than last. If you can keep Cahill out of the lineup, you will be able to finish 4th.

  5. 1. Ivanovic wants to play CB.
    Aspilicueta Ivanovic Terry Cole
    Ramires Mata Oscar Hazard

  6. Ivanovic luiz terry cole….oscar nd mikel……ramirez harzard mata…..torres…kudos to all chelsea fans out der.

  7. i prefer……..cech, ivanovic, luiz, terry, A.cole mikel, lampard mata, oscar, hazard, torres nd d rest shud b as sub. Playerz lyk essien, ferreira, malouda, nd mc eachran shud b on dea way out of d club

    1. Do you seriously want Mcecheran to leave? Have you even watched him play? He is the future of Chelsea and the natural replacement for Frank Lampard.

      1. He’s a rising star, but to be honest he’s not that good — yet. McEachran wasn’t even able to make it on to the Swansea squad when he was on loan there last season. And when he did make the occasional cameo, he wasn’t *that* good.

        The Gaffer

  8. As 4 me let di mateo use 3-2-4-1 formation.cahill.luiz.terry.mikel ramires.hazard.mata.oscar marin.and bench d he may let malouda lampard essien go

  9. What about playing Luiz at RB? I haven’t seen this idea anywhere, but I like the Terry/Cahill CB combo, and Ash Cole has LB obviously. With the way Luiz loves to push forward, why not give this a shot? A back four of Luiz, Terry, Cahill, and Cole would be pretty formidable.

    1. I’ve never understood why this hasn’t been tried, but I also think Luiz has become a very good CB. I also think Ramirez would make a great RB–a position he was forced into at the Camp Nou against Barcelona in the Champions League.

  10. My first preferment for d 2012/2013 is Cech,Terry, Cahail,Cole,Invanovic,Mikel,Matta,Remaris,Hazzard,Oscar n Torres 4 d first five 2012/2013 season

  11. Now that drogba has gone torres will get a lot more game time so i think the formation should be cech
    ivanovic luiz terry cole
    lampard ramires

    mata oscar hazard


    chelsea really should sign azpilicueta cos ivanovic is are only good right back and ferriera is old this formation should win us silverware and my subs: turnbull marin bertrand mikel essien sturridge cahill malouda

    come on chelsea

  12. Lampard and Mikel lying deep have been poor this preseason struggling to shield their defense well and dictate the tempo in midfield. On the one hand you have a fine player past his best and on the other you have one who has never been good enough. This area and right back could be a problem for the European holders.

  13. Formation againts atlet i think i prefer cech ivanovic terry luiz ashley cole mireless lampard ramires Mata hazard torres sub:moses oscar cahill for intro

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