Pochettino plans formation switch in bid to save Chelsea ailing season

Mauricio Pochettino plotting Chelsea formation switch in bid to save ailing season

Mauricio Pochettino is considering a switch to a three-man defence in a desperate bid to salvage Chelsea’s season.

Pochettino is under increased pressure after Sunday’s 4-2 home defeat by Wolves. Chelsea were booed off and Pochettino admitted “nobody is safe” at Stamford Bridge.

With Chelsea languishing down in 11th place and another season in danger of petering out, Pochettino is weighing up a move away from his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation.

It is felt that a three-man defence could provide greater defensive solidity to a team that has conceded four goals in successive Premier League defeats by Liverpool and Wolves.

The system change would also offer more protection to veteran defender Thiago Silva, who was left badly exposed as Wolves ran riot at Stamford Bridge.

Struggling midfield duo Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo, both under 6ft tall, are being dominated physically and would also get more cover with an extra defender behind them.

Silva, Levi Colwill, Benoit Badiashile, Axel Disasi and Trevoh Chalobah all have experience of playing in a three-man defence.

Pochettino has experience of playing a 3-4-3 at Tottenham. He could also use a 3-5-2 and either system would also give Ben Chilwell and Malo Gusto more license to go forward as wing-backs rather than full-backs.

Chelsea have excelled with a three-man defence in the past, winning the title under Antonio Conte in 2017 and the Champions League under Thomas Tuchel in 2021 while using the system.

Graham Potter and Frank Lampard also used the formation, to less success. Pochettino hinted that changes were needed after Chelsea were blown away by Wolves.

“We can’t give up and we are going to work hard to try and change, maybe take some decisions to find a different way,” he said. “If it is not working this way, we need to move on and try to find a different type of solution.”

If Pochettino does make a change, it would be a departure from his favoured four-man defence which he has used for most of his managerial career at Espanyol, Southampton, Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain.

But a drastic change is needed ahead of a difficult run of matches. Chelsea next face Aston Villa in an FA Cup fourth-round replay at Villa Park on Wednesday before a trip to struggling Crystal Palace next Monday.

The Blues then face Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium before the Carabao Cup final against Liverpool at Wembley at the end of the month.

They also face a tricky March, when they play Brentford, Newcastle and Arsenal.

Chelsea targeted Champions League qualification before the season started but the Wolves defeat means they have now fallen 15 points behind the top four.

Pochettino said after the Wolves defeat: “We’re all not good enough. The players need to take responsibility like I take responsibility. At the moment, we are not matching the history of the club.”

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