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Squad Status: 2017/2018 Season

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Holymoly   
On 05/01/2018 at 8:06 PM, chiswickblue said:

18 senior outfield players!

Add an alternative to Alonso and a striker that Conte trusts, reshuffle the young training cones and we might have a squad that sees us through to the end of the season.

Not going to happen. Wouldn't be surprised if we lose a current starter before the end of the month and don't have the time to replace them though.

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On 1/5/2018 at 8:06 PM, chiswickblue said:

18 senior outfield players!

Add an alternative to Alonso and a striker that Conte trusts, reshuffle the young training cones and we might have a squad that sees us through to the end of the season.

3 or 4 short.  We are still in 4 competitions.

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28 minutes ago, Droy was my hero said:

3 or 4 short.  We are still in 4 competitions.

I was being realistic. Even what I mentioned probably isn't going to happen.

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jones   

Would like to elaborate on some of the opinions I have shared a little fragmented on this forum for the past couple of weeks, on what should be the way forward from the summer (but perhaps already now???).

Background

3-4-3 was not only a breath of fresh air last season, it disrupted teams playing 4-2-3-1, 4-4-2 and 4-3-3. Mostly due to the "front five", flanked by the wing backs, coming one man up against the typical back four. But the last 12, and especially 6 months, we have seen how teams have adapted to facing us, and too often countering our game plan. It is like this with all new exciting tactics, of course, it is just that I honestly did not expect it to go over so soon. And, quite clearly, it is over.

Credit to Conte for introducing it. Half of his opponent managers copy pasted him, and many of them (Mourinho, Poch) still do. But also credit because he found a system that solved the most pressing personnel issues we had in our squad, a slow and aging central defense - never more apparent than in our 0-3 defeat at the Emirates. Now, 18 months after he inherited the center back duo of Cahill and Terry, that issue is less pressing. Christensen have overcome the barrier between the youth and the first team, and is quite clearly one of the top center backs in the league, and soon probably in the world. He has everything a modern center back needs, and quite clearly only needs a partner to form a rock solid duo. In a back four. Whether that is the promising, but not quite composed and concentrated Rudiger, the physical beast Zouma (when he returns), or if the club suddenly change their mind a new top CB, is of less importance. Christensen is the future, and the experienced but slow trio of Terry, Luiz and Cahill, quite clearly are the past. Time to rebuild from the back, and it can't be with the already outdated and initially provisional solution.

The way forward

Barcelona. Manchester City. Bayern Munich. PSG. Napoli. The top teams of the top five leagues in the world. What do they have in common? 4-3-3. Add Juventus, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Dortmund and most of the other top teams in Europe to that list. Shouldn't we also go in that direction?

First, a look at what we need:

  1. A solid back four, center backs with pace and good and the ball, and full backs with attacking intent and precision. Azpi - Christensen - Rudiger - Alonso are not very far from fulfilling that need. Little investment needed.
  2. A balanced midfield. Ball-winners, positional intelligence, creativity, ability to counter. Players with goals and assists. And players with the confidence and concentration to defend a result for 90 minutes. You don't get players with all of those characteristics. So you need a good mix. I think we have a well-balanced bunch of CMs, lead by the world's best defensive midfielder. A trio of Fabregas - Kanté - Barkley looks very interesting in my book, well balanced and with attacking intent. Drinkwater and Bakayoko could slot into either position to provide either more attacking intent or more defensive power. Loftus-Cheek and van Ginkel are on loan players that can add numbers, both of them up and coming players with their preferred position in a midfield three. Little investment needed.
  3. An attacking trio with three abilities: pace, goals, assists. Think "Moneyball". These are the players you rely on winning matches. It is not important that they can defend. Whether they are good at hitting crosses, scoring from outside the box or can do a rabona. Once these players get going, it is their attacking ability that leads to goals. That leads to wins. To glory. PSG are not cruising because of their defense, they are cruising because they have Neymar, Cavani and Mbappe as their front three. That leaves di Maria, Draxler and Moura on the bench. We need some pretty hefty investment in this area. Before next season, at least a new top CF and a top AM, perhaps even two. Formation wise, whether it is one CF and two wingers, or one no 10 behind two CFS is less important. Massive investment needed.

Where do we need to invest?

If we take a realistic look at this and the next window, I'd say the minimum requirement is as follows: LB, CB, CM, AM, CF. We can solve two of them with on loan players. Zouma and RLC or MvG can easily be more than decent squad players in 4-3-3. At LB, I have been one of the most vocal Alex Sandro supporters. But if we are moving away from the wing back formation, I don't think our financial situation can defend 50mp on defenders. Someone like Alex Telles at 25mp seems to be a more realistic option. 

But as I said, investing in the front three is the key. And we need to do it the Moneyball way. An AM with a goals+assist/game ratio of at least 0.5. It is why someone like wonderkid Lemar is not even remotely interesting. And why a proven goal maker like Mahrez is a no-brainer. At half the price. And should we buy young, Leon Bailey is the man. We also need a CF who can give Morata a run for his money. Pace and goals, ability to combine with attacking players and presence in the box. It costs, but we don't have a choice. Dybala and Icardi are ideal but probably pipe dreams. Immobile or Aubameyang are more realistic, although not perfect. 

What would it cost?

Alex Telles, Mahrez, Aubameyang, Zouma and van Ginkel would probably cost a total of 125mp. Zappacosta, Luiz and Batshuayi should be able to recoup 75mp. We got 50mp for Costa this window, so we break even.

GK: Courtois, Caballero, Eduardo

RB: Azpilicueta, Moses

LB: Alonso, Telles

CB: Christensen, Rudiger, Cahill, Zouma

DM: Kanté, Bakayoko

Playmaker: Fabregas, Drinkwater

B2B: Barkley, van Ginkel

AM: Hazard, Mahrez, Willian, Pedro

CF: Morata, Aubameyang

Our new squad at no cost. Miles better and more balanced than our current. Not a CL winning side, yet. But we don't get there in six months.

Edited by jones
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Nice post, lots to agree with.  Just a few alternative opinions.

26 minutes ago, jones said:

3-4-3 was not only a breath of fresh air last season, it disrupted teams playing 4-2-3-1, 4-4-2 and 4-3-3. Mostly due to the "front five", flanked by the wing backs, coming one man up against the typical back four. But the last 12, and especially 6 months, we have seen how teams have adapted to facing us, and too often countering our game plan. It is like this with all new exciting tactics, of course, it is just that I honestly did not expect it to go over so soon. And, quite clearly, it is over.

The alternative view is that we had a great set of players last season, held back by a habit of crowding our own penalty area with 8 or 9 players, and getting killed by players like Erikssen who could stand unchallenged outside our box and pick off runners in the box with accurate passes. 
Changing to 343 solved this ingeniously.  The 3 CBs were allowed to stand in our box, the others had to go chasing the players with the ball - pretty much as we had played for the previous decade or longer.  That was the key change.
I know people remain convinced it was a clever tactical switch, but it was really about getting the other 7 to do their job properly.
Somehow, things reverted to 8 at the back against Leicester yesterday.  Defensively we were awful.  Not slow defenders or the system.  Just 2 WBs and 3 CMs who all decided to sit and 2 strikers who wouldn't press without support.

The other key point is that the difference between 343 (with Azpi pushing up into midfield a lot) and 433 with Matic/Mikel/Maka dropping back between the CBs frequently and with two attacking FBs like Ash and Ivanovic is minimal.  I understand Dier switches from DM to CB3 and back regularly.  So did Mikel in effect, only nobody called it that.

33 minutes ago, jones said:

Credit to Conte for introducing it. Half of his opponent managers copy pasted him, and many of them (Mourinho, Poch) still do. But also credit because he found a system that solved the most pressing personnel issues we had in our squad, a slow and aging central defense - never more apparent than in our 0-3 defeat at the Emirates. Now, 18 months after he inherited the center back duo of Cahill and Terry, that issue is less pressing.

It is true that other managers use it against stronger teams.  But hardly anyone uses it against weaker teams like we do.  
Nor do I see the change as a way of removing old slow players from the team.  Luiz replaced JT, Alonso replaced Ivanvovic with Azpi moving across.  That didn't require a change in formation at all.

 

40 minutes ago, jones said:

Barcelona. Manchester City. Bayern Munich. PSG. Napoli. The top teams of the top five leagues in the world. What do they have in common? 4-3-3. Add Juventus, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Dortmund and most of the other top teams in Europe to that list. Shouldn't we also go in that direction?

Yes yes yes

41 minutes ago, jones said:

3.  An attacking trio with three abilities: pace, goals, assists. Think "Moneyball". These are the players you rely on winning matches. It is not important that they can defend. Whether they are good at hitting crosses, scoring from outside the box or can do a rabona. Once these players get going, it is their attacking ability that leads to goals. That leads to wins. To glory. PSG are not cruising because of their defense, they are cruising because they have Neymar, Cavani and Mbappe as their front three. That leaves di Maria, Draxler and Moura on the bench. We need some pretty hefty investment in this area. Before next season, at least a new top CF and a top AM, perhaps even two. Formation wise, whether it is one CF and two wingers, or one no 10 behind two CFS is less important. Massive investment needed.

I'll probably get slated again as a JM groupie now.  Certainly you have to spend big on AMs, and have plenty of them as they get run down quickly.  Best to think of planning for a match 13 including 2 subs expected on at 60mins for a striker and an AM (or 2 AMs).

But the core difference between JM (and most manager's teams) and Conte's teams, is that JM picks attacking players and makes them commit to defending well or get dropped.  Conte picks defensive players and makes them attack.
JM overworks his AMs.  So does Pep, Spurs, City, Liverpool, Arsenal, pretty much every successful team but us.
Conte just replaces them with a CB and tells Hazard not to tire himself out.

So yes I agree AMs are key.  But they have to defend too.  As say Oscar, Hazard and Willian did for us.  Or as Duff, Essien, Ramires, and (more reluctantly) Joe Cole and Robben did too.

51 minutes ago, jones said:

....

Our new squad at no cost. Miles better and more balanced than our current. Not a CL winning side, yet. But we don't get there in six months.

I like this quite a lot.  And unusually you have identified the roles our players play better than most.
I just don't get why we would have 4CBs for 2 positions, and 4 AMs for 2 starting positions and 2 players likely to come on as subs.
Baka or Azpi or Alonso could each play CB perfectly well.  Only Barkley from that squad could play out of position at AM and (perhaps Kante, but I hope it never happens). 
So can we please add Richarlison and someone like Damrai Gray.  We could lose Zouma or Moses.

In practice mind, we are likely to lost around 3 out of Fabregas, Willian, Pedro (ageing) and Courtois and Hazard (in demand).
Buying 1 AM as you suggest is not likely to be enough.  In fact buying 3, as I'd like is not enough.  2 out, 5 in is what we need.  2 out 3 in as much as we can hope for.   A lot of people have read the moneyball, AMs are very expensive and don't tolerate over use well.

Also I suspect RLC and Abraham will be foisted on the manage.  Frankly I'd rather both went out on loan again.

 

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jones   
10 hours ago, Droy was my hero said:

I'll probably get slated again as a JM groupie now.  Certainly you have to spend big on AMs, and have plenty of them as they get run down quickly.  Best to think of planning for a match 13 including 2 subs expected on at 60mins for a striker and an AM (or 2 AMs).

But the core difference between JM (and most manager's teams) and Conte's teams, is that JM picks attacking players and makes them commit to defending well or get dropped.  Conte picks defensive players and makes them attack.
JM overworks his AMs.  So does Pep, Spurs, City, Liverpool, Arsenal, pretty much every successful team but us.
Conte just replaces them with a CB and tells Hazard not to tire himself out.

So yes I agree AMs are key.  But they have to defend too.  As say Oscar, Hazard and Willian did for us.  Or as Duff, Essien, Ramires, and (more reluctantly) Joe Cole and Robben did too.

12 hours ago, jones said:

Agree with a couple of your points, but on this one I think you missed my point. Of course they need to defend also. It is football. But I hope that the days where we buy AMs like Willian, Pedro and Oscar are gone. Their goals+assist/game ratio is not high enough, but their extraordinary defensive contribution "made up for it". My point is that it does not. I appreciate their contribution, but they are not the kind of players we need in the future. In the forward three position it is goals and assists we need the most, not extraordinary defensive attributes. Of the two players you list, Richarlison and Grey, only Richarlison is interesting to us, because he scores and assists. Grey does not. The only interesting PL players in that sense is Mahrez (7 goals + 7 assists), and because he is young and can improve, Richarlison (5+4). There are not too many available and not unrealistic possibilities in the other top leagues either, but Leon Bailey (6+4), Dries Mertens (10+6), Perisic (7+6), Thorgan Hazard (6+6) and Malcom (7+5) are all players who fits that bill. 

40mp will get you either Mahrez (the experienced and PL proven option, but with little exit value) or Bailey (the potential superstar, but who is still a little raw). These are the players we should be going for.

And as for numbers of AMs in the squad. This is one of your returning arguments, I knew it would come so to say. But it is hard to agree with you. Excessively large squads comes at the expense of squad happiness, motivation and lack of match training. 6 top players for three positions, with other players in the squad capable, seems like a good balance. If you look at PSG (6), Barca (5), City (5), Real (6), Juventus (6), Bayern (5) etc, all of them have gone for quality over quantity for the three attacking positions. And most of them also have players they use in CM that are options in a front three (KDB, Iniesta, Isco, James and Pastore). Just like we do in the squad I listed, where players like Moses, Barkley, Fabregas and even Hudson-Odoi could fill into AM.

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1 hour ago, jones said:

Agree with a couple of your points, but on this one I think you missed my point. Of course they need to defend also. It is football. But I hope that the days where we buy AMs like Willian, Pedro and Oscar are gone. Their goals+assist/game ratio is not high enough, but their extraordinary defensive contribution "made up for it". My point is that it does not.

Yet we have been scoring more goals while they have been at the club than almost any other period except the one off year of 2010.

Quite simply the "Willian Pedro & Oscar aren't good enough" line is bollocks.  

Ageing and overworked I'd accept to some extent.

1 hour ago, jones said:

And as for numbers of AMs in the squad. This is one of your returning arguments, I knew it would come so to say. But it is hard to agree with you. Excessively large squads comes at the expense of squad happiness, motivation and lack of match training. 6 top players for three positions, with other players in the squad capable, seems like a good balance. If you look at PSG (6), Barca (5), City (5), Real (6), Juventus (6), Bayern (5) etc, all of them have gone for quality over quantity for the three attacking positions.

It isn't 3 positions though, it is 3 starting and 2 certain subs a game for AMs + strikers.
The real question for me is how come everyone thinks  we need 8 defenders and 6 AMs/strikers.  That is truly bizarre.

1 hour ago, jones said:

where players like Moses, Barkley, Fabregas and even Hudson-Odoi could fill into AM.

Barkley yes.  Fabregas clearly loses a great deal when he is moved into AM rather than at Quarter back. Moses is a poor WB, and a dreadful AM, who I doubt would get a game at any other PL club now except at FB.  Certainly not for Chelsea.  And Hudson-Odoi is 17, unfair to even mention him right now.
Again one might just as equally make the same point about CBs where we have 5+Alonso +Bakayoko (+Ampadu) who could all be effective CBs.  But only 2 or 3 can play.

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jones   
25 minutes ago, Droy was my hero said:

Quite simply the "Willian Pedro & Oscar aren't good enough" line is bollocks.  

 

I am not saying they "aren't good enough". I am saying that I think 4-3-3 is the way forward, and to succeed with that, we need attacking players that contribute to goals. 

  • Pedro 45 goals/assists in 110 matches, 0.41
  • Oscar 75 goals/assists in 203 matches, 0.37
  • Willian 74 goals/assists in 215 matches 0.34

It is not that they are bad. It is just that I don't see them being players that give us the attacking edge that other AM will.

33 minutes ago, Droy was my hero said:

It isn't 3 positions though, it is 3 starting and 2 certain subs a game for AMs + strikers.
The real question for me is how come everyone thinks  we need 8 defenders and 6 AMs/strikers.  That is truly bizarre.

What is truly bizarre (though not surprising at all), is how you fail to listen to a good argument (benchmark with all other top clubs), and still try to make it look like we need an excessive pool of AM. Something no other club does. At least not the successful ones. Please take a look at the squads of the top clubs in Europe (playing 4-3-3). The pretty clear trend line is 8 defenders, 6 CMs, and 6 AM/CFs. 

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46 minutes ago, jones said:

What is truly bizarre (though not surprising at all), is how you fail to listen to a good argument (benchmark with all other top clubs), and still try to make it look like we need an excessive pool of AM. Something no other club does. At least not the successful ones. Please take a look at the squads of the top clubs in Europe (playing 4-3-3). The pretty clear trend line is 8 defenders, 6 CMs, and 6 AM/CFs. 

1.  I don't think that is true. 

2.  If it is then they are all crazy.  

3.  So what.  Are you are arguing that 866 is more balanced than 6 defenders, 6 CMs and 8 AM/CFs?

46 minutes ago, jones said:
  • Pedro 45 goals/assists in 110 matches, 0.41  
  • Oscar 75 goals/assists in 203 matches, 0.37
  • Willian 74 goals/assists in 215 matches 0.34

You are counting Matches, not minutes.
Pedro 80 starts + 30 subs
Oscar 147 + 56
Willian 152 + 63

A very good estimate of minutes is simply starts.  Players that come on a lot invariably get subbed off a lot too.
So in fact we get

  • Pedro 45 goals/assists and 80 starts =  0.56
  • Oscar 75 goals/assists and 147 starts  = 0.51
  • Willian 74 goals/assists and  152 starts   = 0.49

Bloody Amazing stats to my mind.  Who are you comparing them to?

(And this guys are playing alongside Hazard and Fabregas and Costa/Morata, they have never been part of a front 2.)

Edited by Droy was my hero

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21 minutes ago, Droy was my hero said:

 

  • Pedro 45 goals/assists and 80 starts =  0.56
  • Oscar 75 goals/assists and 147 starts  = 0.51
  • Willian 74 goals/assists and  152 starts   = 0.49

Bloody Amazing stats to my mind.  Who are you comparing them to?

(And this guys are playing alongside Hazard and Fabregas and Costa/Morata, they have never been part of a front 2.)

I think everyone must compare our players to Messi and Ronaldo,  it's the only conclusion I can come to when so may think what we have or have had are not good enough.

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