A game of football is made up of 10 outfield players and 1 goalkeeper, and a lot of emphasis is placed on those outfield players, and that’s why formations and tactics are usually written in 4-4-2 and 4-3-3.
That aside, the power of an extra man in a football match can do wonders and give that team a lot of strength; I’ve actually played a local football game where the opposition team were 11 in number against our 10. They ran us ragged and were 3-0 ahead until something prompted me to count how many they really were; you could imagine my shock when an exhausted me counted 11 players in the opposition team. The match was however cancelled.
Back to the topic: Have Chelsea been playing with 12 men? Recent results actually suggests that we have been playing with 12 men. I mean, since the switch in formation to a 3-4-3 formation, it’s been 2-0 against Hull City, 3-0 against Leicester City, 4-0 against Manchester United, 2-0 against Southampton and a whopping 5 against Everton. It even got worse in the games against Southampton and Everton; Thibaut Courtois was on holidays all through those games. Doesn’t this suggest that Chelsea have actually been fielding two extra players, because it’s just surreal and too good to be true.
After the game against Everton, I read an interesting comment on our fan page, and one funny lad suggested that Chelsea weren’t really playing a 3-4-3 formation but a 5-2-5 formation and that’s why it’s so difficult for teams to play against us or even have a shot on target. As funny as it sounds, it’s actually true if you look at it in another perspective. Our wing-backs are doing a good job bursting up and down the flanks, and their positional sense is just so amazing that when we defend they are always there to support the defence, making them become 5 at the back, and when we are attacking they overlap quickly enough to give us width on both flanks and support the attack in return. This has helped give the team extra balance, and we then have a solid partnership between N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic in the middle of the park to provide extra cushion for the defence and they also link up well with the attack.
This is why I don’t even get bothered when other teams try to play same formation as Chelsea. Antonio Conte has drilled them perfectly into this formation that playing it against Chelsea will be at your own risk.