Frank Lampard’s Chelsea Tactics Explained


Frank Lampard’s tenure at Chelsea has begun
with some good football but less than great results. A high-scoring pre-season, which
saw plenty of goals scored and conceded while using Lampard’s preferred 4-2-3-1, has given
way to a less successful start to competitive football and a return, of sorts, to Maurizio
Sarri’s 4-3-3 with Jorginho anchoring midfield. That Lampard should like the 4-2-3-1 is no
surprise – it was the preferred set-up of the man he probably absorbed most from tactically,
Jose Mourinho, and it empowers the sort of energetic pressing style that Lampard seems
keen to encourage. This is no doubt part of the reason that Mason Mount, who is familiar
with Lampard’s ideals after his time at Derby County, is starting – Mount is a dedicated
and smart presser who injects energy from midfield and his role, either as a 10 in the
4-2-3-1 or as an 8/10 hybrid in the 4-3-3 helps set Chelsea’s pressing tone. In attack, Chelsea have a clear plan and execute
it well. Jorginho drops back to provide a passing option to the centre backs, while
the advanced midfielders and wide attackers try to find a position between the lines in
the final third, with the centre forward, either Olivier Giroud or Tammy Abraham, a
longer out ball. Jorginho or the centre backs look to effect progressive passes to players
who’ve found space. The wide players tend to tuck in, which is
Pedro’s natural approach anyway, which means that the full backs need to push forwards
to provide overlaps and width. The wide players look to progress the ball to the overlapping
full backs and then push inside – the aim seems to be to generate whipped, low crosses
from these positions, although Chelsea will also play it back through the nearest midfielder
should a chance not be generated at the right pace to cause the opposition issues. The outer midfielders vary in role, to a degree
– Mount pushes up more and looks to profit from Giroud’s ability to hold up the ball
and play players in with flicks and touches, while Kante has a slightly deeper position
to protect Chelsea on the counter. However, Kante will also push up a lot and there are
similarities to Sarri’s style in how Lampard looks to use his two outer central midfielders
to offer pass and move options in the half space. Chelsea are more direct and quicker under
Lampard, while the use of a more traditional centre forward as a focal point makes sense. Defence is where Chelsea have issues, and
this is partly because Lampard’s attacking, energetic approach leaves them open. The defensive
system is extremely demanding, both physically and mentally, and it’s no surprise to see
Chelsea falling off in games once opposition substitutes have refreshed their attack, and
Chelsea’s own players are tiring or new to the dynamic of the game. Chelsea look to
press from the front quite narrowly, sometimes with Mount the most advanced player and the
centre forward slightly behind him, while the full backs or wider central midfielders
are supposed to push up or cover across if this first line of the press is bypassed. Chelsea then defend mostly in 4-4-2 or 4-1-4-1
when they drop off and form a mid or low block, happy to let the opposition pass the ball
around in their own defensive third. The wide attackers, the advanced side players in this
block, do respond to pressing triggers when the ball is moved wide or mis-controlled,
and the central midfielders will also push up and press if Chelsea start to compress
the space. While all these triggers make sense, they
leave gaps that need to be filled, especially when the full backs follow their man inside.
What is clear from watching Chelsea so far this season, especially in the defeat to Manchester
United, is that space appearing in the midfield area, or in the wide channels as full backs
tuck in and wide players press, has been Chelsea’s Achilles heel defensively. The exploitation
of this space, either on the counter as Chelsea attack aggressively, or from bypassing the
press effectively and isolating the Chelsea back line, has proved fertile for opposition
teams and is something that Lampard needs to sort out quickly. It’s why many teams
that use a high press do so with the front players leading it and three players back,
compact across midfield, because there must be solidity if the press is bypassed. The complexity and physically demanding nature
of Chelsea’s attacking, transitional, and pressing game mean that it will take time
to adjust. Jorginho just isn’t the right fit for the fulcrum in an intense pressing
side, either, however good Kante is alongside him. At the moment, Cheslea’s players seem
to be struggling with the aggressive nature of the press and the gaps it leaves – if
the coach doesn’t adjust, expect more high scoring games. Lampard’s style in build-up and attack is
good – there’s a pretty clear intent and Chelsea have some exciting attacking players.
Kante will alleviate some of the defensive issues simply by being the best in the world
at his role, while the other players will adapt and learn. The use of Mount is not to
be underestimated either – it shows not only that Lampard is willing to use young
players, but is also doing it because of what they bring to the team and his style of play
– this isn’t simply pandering to the crowd’s desire to see one of their own in the club’s
colours. But, Jorginho is still flawed defensively
in this system, and Lampard needs to achieve a balance in his preferred style and how the
team need to defend. If Lampard can continue to coax attacking intent from his team, while
introducing more youngsters and tightening Chelsea’s defensive shape, he could prove
a good appointment, but it’s currently a big “if”.

95 thoughts on “Frank Lampard’s Chelsea Tactics Explained

  • I think Jorginho in sthe most important player in the chelsea attack as he sets all the plays from deep. But he also organises the press and covers a lot of ground between the midfield and the attack but the problem is that he doesn't have the ability to deal with attacking players physically in 1v1 situations. Btu without his organisation and leadership you will also see the press bypassed alot

  • Eleven players on the pitch. A goalkeeper and ten out-players. Objective – try to win!
    That's it! What's all this nonsense about half spaces and double-pivots and dropping deep and cutting inside and false fullbacks etc., etc.?! You make it seem so methodical! As soon as the ball kicks off players are like marbles on a glass table, but you believe in whatever you want.

  • I believe that Chelsea must lose some of the press, starting with pulling back their fullbacks and creating a certain boundary for the final third to press. Chelsea has been very flawed in terms of defense, mostly due to the fullback's unavailability when there is a counter attack. Whenever they concede a goal with fullbacks back, then you can probably blame Zouma. It is visible that only certain Chelsea players can keep up with the press, and definitely one player that doesn't keep up with it is Azpilecueta, who's lack of pace can often leave a defensive gap on the right side of the pitch. Chelsea needs to drop its fullbacks while giving guidelines on when and where the midfield and forwards can press.

  • So who do you suggest should play as dm/holding player in light of the fact that chelsea have not been able to sign players?

  • Targeting jorginho while ingoring the blunders of azpi, zouma and Christensen. And the fact that the midfield and attack are pressing high while the defense (center backs) is afraid to follow suit due to their own awareness of their defensive deficiencies.
    Simplistic video singling out one of our best players this season. Delete and try again.

  • It looked like we sorted our defensive issue out during the Cup were we played more compact. However, the defensive issues came back during Leicester and parts of Norwich. I think Reece and Rudi will help us out a bit more. What I worry about most is if we can keep up this high intense pressing through multiple competitions when we look exhausted after the second half of each game?

  • Completely wrong on Jorginho, he is great in a press, I can't understand where you got the idea that he is struggling. He has been playing this pressing style longer than his teammates have and he always tries to direct them and pick the right moment to push forward and trigger the press. I believe it's the complete opposite, Jorginho struggles to be effective in a non-intense pressing side, whenever Chelsea are on the back foot and have to stay in their own half that's when he usually makes mistakes.

  • Lampards uncle was an ordinary manager. I don't think he would be any different. He isn't trying anything original. But I wish him the best. I would love to see him do well.

  • Jorginho FFS.. He would do well at roma.. Or Porto. Or cska Moscow. Not in the EPL. He's out of his depth in the best league in the world.. He had his chances.

  • Why doesn't he stop paying high then, and just park the bus when we don't have the ball?
    That's what legend Mourinho did

  • We need a Fabinho not a Jorginho. I also don’t want Kante in the 6 role because it’s limiting and he’s such a great ball carrier and he’s also not physically imposing enough, I don’t want us to sell Jorginho but we need a strong #6 who is great on the ball, great in build up and can cover gaps in defensive transition. Honestly I just want us to get a Fabinho clone.

  • Mount hasn't played LCM even once in the 433.. he's always played on the wings. jorginho has been an outstanding player in the squad so far this season, we only falter when he's subbed off because he's on a yellow. the jorginho-kante duo has only been played once this season, which was against liverpool. that was our best game. please don't put out misinformation just to crank out videos..

  • A good look at Lampard's early-season teething problems, but I think a lot of the issues will abate once the squad is fully adapted to the high-press system, and once the 5 key players we currently have out injured come back (CHO, RLC, Kante, Rudiger, James).

    Chelsea are absolutely not used to a high press; Sarri tried to implement one, but only Jorginho (who, contrary to what you say in the video, has excelled in the high press in his career) was genuinely pressing. The rest of the team had been coached by Mou and Conte, who both stuck resolutely to the low press. The team didn't buy into what Sarri was asking of them (Hazard actually spoke about how he ignored Sarri's instructions regularly), and so he resigned himself to a mid-to-low block. From the outside looking in, Lampard has got the squad on his side, especially the young players he has brought through, and so might be able to get the team to orchestrate an efficient high press, once they've fully adapted to it.

    At the moment, you can actually see players (barring Mount, Tammy, and Jorginho) walking backwards, then remembering and running forwards at full speed to press, which is incredibly easy to bypass. Once that is worked out of them, we might be able to actually see what Lampard has in plan for Chelsea. Pep and Klopp have already spoken highly of what he's trying to do, hopefully it comes off, for the good of Chelsea, and for young, English coaches.

  • The 4231 has always been a formation easily exposed to counter attacks and to make it worse Jorghino is not defensive minded and has got no pace, so therefore Jorghino has to be intelligent about the way he positions himself and the timing of his tackles. I prefer a 433, 352 or 343 system.. think it gives us balance.

  • I think 4-3-1-2 will do better in some situations? Jorginho role here seems to be like Pirlo during Milan side, he need 2 people covering him so he can create chances.

  • Still think they should go with a double pivot of Kante Jorginho and a free moving playmaker in front of them. Kante can be his engine self and his winger can cover his area inside.

  • Would be interesting to see a double pivot of kante-kovacic with mount as the 10. Would maybe resolve some of the defensive issues while still maintaining progression qualities through kovacic's dribbling in particular or finding mount between the lines or off Giroud's touches.

  • FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. DO A 3 HOUR DOCUMENTARY ON BURY FC. I DON'T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED. I'D RATHER READ ABOUT IT HERE. THE EARLIER THE BETTER TOO. GOOD JOB GUYS.

  • 4-2-3-1 wasn't the preferred formation for Mourinho back in Lampard's days was it? It was the 4-3-3 with 1 sitting midfielder anchoring ("The Makelele role" and others after him) with Lampard on the left of the 2 in front. Mourinho was famous for bringing that 4-3-3 system to English football when everyone else was playing 4-4-2, which is one of the reason's it did so well.

  • It looks like the club has given Lampard a licence to play and develop the kids for the next two years with little pressure on performance… wouldnt be surprised if he was there purely for a caretaker type role until the transfer ban is lifted.

  • Do a video on Sheffield United’s overlapping centerbacks. A truly unique and original way of playing that isn’t just lampard copying Mourinho.

  • As a Chelsea fan,I love Lampard's style of play,cause itproduces good and enjoyable football.Yes,there are some defensive issues ,but when everyone returns(Kante,Rudigerand Reece James) we will be much better at dedefense,as the players will learn.I prefer a team who tries to fight a lot for the win than a team scoring a goal and then just parking the bus.We,the Chelsea fans,have to be patient and great results will come.Lampard's the right man for the job!

  • Another fantastic video! Could you do one on teams that could be explored further history wise like Zenit and their uefa cup win or Istanbul Basaksehir who nearly won the Turkish league twice

  • Exploitation on our RB position is because Azpi is a weak link. We are missing a fit rudiger as well as a fit Kante

  • He’s had 3 Prem games with many key players either unfit or injured. Surely an assessment once he’s had a run with his preferred XI and ultimately more than 3 Prem League games into his tenure would be more suitable, no?

  • I can see this Chelsea team do things if they can get Kante back and fix defensive issues. Although people love Lampard I seriously believed Chelsea made a big mistake in not trying to keep Sarri. What he did to Napoli who was a top 6/5 and made them serious contenders in the most manopolize league.

  • honestly i think a 4-3-3 would work really well for chelsea considering the amount of midfield depth they currently have in the squad.

    they could play any mix of kante, jorginho, kovacic, loftus cheek, mount, and bakayoko in midfield rather than just having say kante and jorginho starting as a double pivot. with a 4-3-3 really the only weakness is pace at right back, azpi is overrated, getting old

  • Hit the nail on the head. As a fan of football and Chelsea in particular, I get an idea of what you are describing when I watch the games but I am not as eloquent as pinpointing the exact nature of tge tactics and the key flaws. Jorginho has shown his desire to improve but I agree that he might not be the best fit in that position as our anchor. Definitely got a sub from me.

  • Stop scapegoating Jorginho. The issue is not solely down to him, our defensive line do not push up with the midfield so we are not compact enough, the understanding is not yet there between our CB. It will come with time.

  • New fan and really enjoying your videos. I'm a huge Newcastle United fan. Can you please do a video on Steve Bruce and his chances of creating a legacy like sir Bobby Robson did?

  • I believe the defense will get better not only with the return of Rudiger and addition of James but with time Zouma and Christensen will get comfortable playing with each other and will read each other's game better to cover for each other. I keep telling my friends only Azpilicuetta was the starter the last few years the other 3 guys have just come in as regular. Give it time for them to sort themselves out and the defensive mistakes will subside.

  • Great video, but Jorginho really does offer so much to this Chelsea side. He reads the game very well and is an important character on the pitch. Lampard rates him incredibly highly.

  • I think this video is prematurely made. It would have been best in end of September or October after more games.

  • Not even a mention of Kovacic, especially after the Norwich game, and overemphasizing Jorginho and Mount is just wrong. You obviously didn't put enough time to make a proper analysis. To someone who watched just a game against United your points could seem reasonable and correct. But to someone watched all three games in Premierleague + one against Liverpool in Supercup, this analysis is just apsurd. Not mentioning players like Emerson and Kovacic as clear strengths of this team, Azpi and Zouma as weakness, just says enough. Maybe I'm biased, but I've definitely seen better analysis on Tifo.

  • Good analysis. From being at the Leicester game and watching all the games thus far I’d say that Kante is not actually as deep as you have alluded to and hardly sits next to Jorginho. Also Jorginho is starting to prove he has what it takes to play in the fulcrum, perhaps not as efficiently as Fernandinho but still to a high level. I’d also say the main problem with the Defense is that the midfield is being bypassed due to the high press lamapard operates and when you have Kante back, Rudiger back, Reece James, you will see a much better unit. Great piece though guys.

  • high-scoring games are fun and just wait how the team will improve one RLC, CHO and rüdiger come back from injury.
    I'm very excited

  • The criticism of Jorginho in this video is uncalled for given that we've only seen 3 competitive games this season. Also, Jorginho is gonna play more games than others (bar Kante), because Lampard rates him highly. We've seen Jorginho change his game quite a bit over the last 6 months. His reading of the game is exceptional and though he may not be good at tackling, he is quite good at interceptions and setting up attacking plays/ recycling possession. The shortcomings of his game can be fixed by adjusting the players that play alongside him in the midfield three. imo Jorginho Kante and RLC would be the most stable midfield from both attacking and defensive point.

  • In the 433 mount has played as an inside forward to the left of abraham not the 8 role that Barkley or Kovacic has played. This is super clear in the victory over norwich.

  • one thing i have never understood is why jorginho is playing a role he cant fulfill, why not let kante play in the deeper role in the midfielder and let jorginho be further forward, because kante would provide much needed cover in front of the defense especially now that he is coming from an injury, it would benefit him not to make too many forward runs and just keep it simple, yes he is an engine in midfield but you also got to take care of that engine, it cant run at full speed every game, some times you gotta take it easy. I also think it would be better for jorginho to play further forward similar to iniesta and david silva, or maybe even just in front of kante (and not kante in front of him because that does not work) he wont be required to press like the players in front of him, and he wont have to defend like the players behind him, but he will still have defensive responsibility as much as anyone since he will be the link from defense to attack and vise versa, it will also free him up to pick out those inch perfect final passes which which the likes of de bruyne and silva do for city, and are able to do because they have less defensive responsibility…

    but thats what i think, basically let kante and jorginho swap places

  • Lampards style the team haven't adapted to yet. They're attaching issues are breaking the line in the last 3rd. Time and training that will get sharper.

  • jorginho is a good player but stubborn and stuck in his ways like sarri. his role is to hold the midfield defensively (fails) and provide swift passes over the field. if you cant develop a proper partnership with kante (one of best midfielders in the world) you cant be in the team. Bakayoko would be an even better fit or reece james an option to cover holes in midfield faster with kante as prime holding midfielder.

  • I think the issues of Chelsea's defence is the lack of experience at the back. David Luiz had controlled the high defensive line and organised the Defence really well last season (which is why Sarri didn't have massive gaps in the defence compared to Lampard) and that's one of the main reasons Sarri kept him as No1 choice even though defensive Luiz was sometimes a liability.

  • After a long time, Chelsea are playing some daring and original football. As a chelsea fan, I hate that the results aren't going our way but the play is too good. I love watching the matches now. Every moment is exciting. WE COULD SCORE OR CONCEDE at any time. Looking forward to the rest of the season.

  • ffs just play Kante in place of Jorginho. Jorginho offers simple links for the CB's, which Kante is more than capable of doing, but also providing 10x the defensive solidity.

  • I think you guys should put a video about Bury FC and why they got removed from football league. I think that it will help many people understand what’s going on and from a very neutral point of view as many other channels are talking about this very biasly and I would like to have different perspectives on what actually happened.

    P.S im posting football content as well Including highlights and stats so if anyone sees this please sub or watch one of my videos it will mean a lot to me!

  • Jorginho is really good in possession with his ability to progress the ball and direct play however out of possession he’s a complete liability. He offers zero protection to the back 4 because he’s constantly being bypassed. Also this team looks a lot better in A 433 shape with midfielders either side of Jorginho but chelsea are gonna have to buy a new defensively midfielder

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