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Nicolas Anelka as a trequartista?

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Nicolas Anelka as a trequartista?
February 4, 2011

http://www.zonalmarking.net/2011/02/04/nicolas-anelka-as-a-trequartista/#more-5795


A possible new position for Anelka

It was assumed that Fernando Torres’ arrival would mean a place on the bench for Nicolas Anelka, but Tuesday’s 4-2 victory over Sunderland showed that Carlo Ancelotti might have a different role in mind for the Frenchman.

So far this season, Chelsea have generally lined up in a 4-3-3 shape, with Anelka and Florent Malouda either side of Didier Drogba. In the long term, Torres might not be competing with Anelka and Drogba, who will be 32 and 33 respectively by the end of this campaign, but for the final months of the season, Ancelotti has somewhat of a selection dilemma, with three top-class strikers.

Diamond

It’s difficult to see how Ancelotti could not play with two central strikers, likely to be a Drogba-Torres combination. Rather than turning to a standard 4-4-2 shape, something Ancelotti has never been a fan of, it’s likely he’ll revert to a diamond, similar to the 4-3-1-2 he favoured at Milan, and the same shape he started his tenure at Chelsea with.

That diamond is often remembered as being unsuccessful, and the move from the diamond to more of a 4-3-3 shape towards the end of the campaign was certainly crucial in launching Chelsea towards the title at a time when they seemed to be hitting a brick wall. For the first three months of the season, however, the diamond worked well. Chelsea simply came across injury problems that prevented them playing the diamond effectively.

Last season’s problems

First, when you play a diamond, width from full-back is essential. Chelsea had that from left-back through Ashley Cole, but Jose Bosingwa’s injury meant a lack of a similar option on the right. Paulo Ferreira and Juliano Belletti didn’t quite have the legs, Branislav Ivanovic was a centre-back shoved out to the right and not good enough on the ball. Sir Alex Ferguson exposed the problems there when he went to Stamford Bridge and dominated the game (despite United managing to lose 1-0) – he played Antonio Valencia high up the pitch on the right, Wayne Rooney upfront and an off-centre diamond in midfield, effectively letting Ivanovic have the ball. He didn’t hurt United, and Chelsea barely threatened in open play. Bosingwa’s return to fitness solves that problem.

Second, Ancelotti tried to play either Michael Ballack or Deco on the right of the diamond. Again, neither had the energy required to play that role, and after Michael Essien became injured in early December, Chelsea’s diamond was too static. Now, with Ramires – a player signed on the strength of his performances playing as a ’shuttler’ on the side of a diamond for Benfica and Brazil – Chelsea don’t have that issue either. In short, a diamond is now an option again.

Anelka deeper

A diamond was on Tuesday with Torres not yet available, but rather than playing Anelka and Drogba upfront, Ancelotti used Anelka in a deeper role, behind Drogba and Saloman Kalou. By all accounts, Anelka had an excellent game there. “Nicolas Anelka played very well”, said Ancelotti. “He used his ability in behind Didier Drogba. His performance was fantastic tonight.” His passing and tackling chalkboards are both very impressive.


by Guardian Chalkboards

Interestingly, there is relatively little difference between the positions Anelka took up in the trequartista role, and the positions he took up when playing on the right of a front three, suggesting he could adapt to the new role easily.


by Guardian Chalkboards

False nine becomes a number ten?

It is also worth considering that for last season’s trip to Old Trafford, Ancelotti preferred Anelka over Drogba for his link-up play. There, Anelka essentially played a false nine role – as Robin van Persie has for Arsenal, as Carlos Tevez has for Manchester City, as Wayne Rooney has for Manchester United. But interestingly, van Persie, Tevez and Rooney are naturally ‘withdrawn’ forwards (“number tens”) – Anelka was perhaps the first false nine who played that role despite being a recognised ‘out-and-out’ striker (a “number nine”), suggesting that his game has changed as he’s got older.

He wouldn’t be the first pacey striker to turn into a link player towards the end of his career – Michael Owen played behind the front two towards the end of his stay at Newcastle, and played the same role for Manchester United last weekend quite well, because he is now a more intelligent forward than he is a clinical forward. Thierry Henry often spoke of the idea that as he lost his pace, he would drop deeper and use his vision to become more like his old teammate Dennis Bergkamp. Henry’s alarmingly sudden drop in ability meant this didn’t happen on a permanent basis, but Barcelona’s game against Valencia last season – when he came on in a link role and turned a 0-1 into a 3-1 – showed he definitely had the characteristics to play there.

A lot depends on how attack-minded Ancelotti wants to be. A front three of Anelka, Drogba and Torres is very offensive, but then let’s remember that Ancelotti was happy to go to Anfield last season with a front six of Drogba, Anelka, Malouda, Kalou, Lampard and Ballack. When the time is right, he’s quite capable of going gung ho, and therefore Anelka-Drogba-Torres is an option for the remainder of this season.
 
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Thought Carlo Ancelotti would go back to this but didnt think Anelka would be the trequartista
 
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Carlo and Nico sprung a massive suprise by playing him at the tip of the diamond and he was absolutely sensational. Nico has the flair and footballing brain to play in this role without a dout and i hope he plays their on Sunday.
 
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Where would Malouda be though? I'm assuming that the diamond formation would be Anelka on top, Ramires and Essien in the middle and Mikel at the back.
 
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Where would Malouda be though? I'm assuming that the diamond formation would be Anelka on top, Ramires and Essien in the middle and Mikel at the back.
You fogot a certain Lampard?? In DM will be Mikel/Essien, in the centre will be Lampard and/or Essien/Ramires/Malouda and at the tip will be Aneka/Malouda/Benayoun.
 
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Very interesting article, as they always are.

I can see this working for Chelsea, Anelka is a top player who would compliment Drogba and Torres very well.
 
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You fogot a certain Lampard?? In DM will be Mikel/Essien, in the centre will be Lampard and/or Essien/Ramires/Malouda and at the tip will be Aneka/Malouda/Benayoun.
Lampard will take Ramires' spot when he's fit, but atm its Ramires and Essien in the middle. You don't want to play Essien as a DM, it's like playing Rooney as a winger. You would want Essien to roam around winning balls back and be a constant threat to his opponents, not him sitting back. And I get that Malouda would be taking Anelka's spot when the latter is injured, but does that automatically means that Malouda would not be a first teamer anymore?
 
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Lampard will take Ramires' spot when he's fit, but atm its Ramires and Essien in the middle. You don't want to play Essien as a DM, it's like playing Rooney as a winger. You would want Essien to roam around winning balls back and be a constant threat to his opponents, not him sitting back. And I get that Malouda would be taking Anelka's spot when the latter is injured, but does that automatically means that Malouda would not be a first teamer anymore?
On the other hand, Ramires is a player perfectly suited to playing a shuttling role on the right hand of midfield. It's a toss-up: if we assume both Essien and Lampard are playing, who do you drop out of Obi and Ramires? Out of the two, I'd drop Obi and play Ramires in the position he excels in for Brazil and used to for Benfica.

Malouda probably wouldn't be a first teamer anymore. Of the three, Benayoun is the best suited to the role, but he's simply not as good. I'd have Anelka: if he starts drifting from flank to flank, linking with the fullbacks and charging from deep with Lampard whilst Essien and Ramires hold, you would have a fearsome attack. If Anelka and Lampard were getting forward, you would have the prospect of three of the most clinical forwards in the Prem (Anelka, Drogba and Torres), two flying fullbacks (Cole and Bosingwa) and the best midfield finisher in the Prem (Lampard) all running into the box at once. On top of that, Essien and Ramires' energy and pace can mean they could support the attack and then get back into holding positions quickly, to nullify counterattacks.

If this works, it could be explosive. If it doesn't, it could be useless. Time will tell whether Torres and Drogba can play together, whether Anelka can continue excelling in a deeper role, whether Lampard will flourish even alongside another attack-minded midfielder, and whether the full-backs can provide the necessary width.
 
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Lampard will take Ramires' spot when he's fit, but atm its Ramires and Essien in the middle. You don't want to play Essien as a DM, it's like playing Rooney as a winger. You would want Essien to roam around winning balls back and be a constant threat to his opponents, not him sitting back. And I get that Malouda would be taking Anelka's spot when the latter is injured, but does that automatically means that Malouda would not be a first teamer anymore?
Lampard is fit and if Essien can play DM pretty well and we wont lose any attaking threat because Ramires is excellent at bursting forward. The bottem line is Chelsea have alot of versatility now.
 
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TBH I don't think it's going to be the same line-up week in week out, Carlo's going to have to rotate. Players such as David Luiz, Bosingwa, Mikel, Ramires, Malouda, Anelka, Kalou will all have to rotate, as well as Zhirkov and Benayoun when they're fit. Personally I think it's a good thing because they will realise that if they don't play well there's always going to be people waiting to rob their starting spot.
 
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Lampard is fit and if Essien can play DM pretty well and we wont lose any attaking threat because Ramires is excellent at bursting forward. The bottem line is Chelsea have alot of versatility now.
I'm not denying that, just that I find it kinda strange that a player that was one of the best wingers in the EPL (albeit in an indifferent form atm) had to be relegated to the bench.
 
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I'm not denying that, just that I find it kinda strange that a player that was one of the best wingers in the EPL (albeit in an indifferent form atm) had to be relegated to the bench.
Malouda was immense last season and right up until maybe October last year. But lately he has been pretty pool and he also has his age against him. He came off the bench on Tuesday with Ramires and both were full of energy and played really well. He will still get games im sure of that but now he has to work for his place.
 
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