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What Emenalo Thinks?

Jose M

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Posted on: Fri 25 Mar 2011 Carlo Ancelotti's decision to switch the side's formation to 4-4-2 in recent weeks has drawn plenty of attention, but it appears to have dug his side out of the 'bad moment' they were experiencing and elevated us back into the Barclays Premier League title race.

Assistant first team coach Michael Emenalo has explained why the back-to-basics approach has worked so well, with three straight league wins and no defeats in seven in all competitions.

'Carlo looked over the situation with the players we have and at what was lacking, and in his past when he has been in these situations, he decided the best way to attack this situation was to get a very good defensive base from which to work,' Emenalo said.

'As a result we've gone to 4-4-2 which gives a balanced defensive core, but we have quality players who can do different things and we are able to manipulate it a little bit, with Ramires on the right and Florent Malouda or Yury Zhirkov on the left, so we can create width on one side and a certain level of compactness from the right, meaning we don't get overrun even if we send people forward and it can become a central three in midfield when we are defending.

'It means we can stay strong in transition because a lot of times when people play 4-4-2 they use two wide players who go forward and they have problems in transition, or play 4-4-1-1, limiting the players they have going forward and often becoming a 4-5-1.

'On our left side we also have a very attacking full-back in Ashley Cole, and it helps that when David Luiz plays he gets involved and becomes a playmaker.

'The experience of the manager has helped tremendously because we've been able to come through and look strong again.'

It does not however, Emenalo believes, mean that the traditional Chelsea 4-3-3 has been discarded permanently. The Nigerian anticipates that we could see its return before too long.

'The 4-3-3 allows you to play better football because there are so many possibilities to it in terms of build-up,' he explained. 'You can move the ball around and control possession more, it is a little more sophisticated, especially in England where teams often tend to play a 4-5-1 or 4-4-2 against us.

'I anticipate it coming back but it is good for us to have this variety, and I can also anticipate a possible 4-2-3-1 in the future, or even because of the forwards we have at Chelsea a 4-2-1-3.

'We understand our team and we know it needs a certain type of creative player. We've missed Yossi Benayoun a bit, who can come from a wide area into the middle and be devastating with the final pass.

'When Frank Lampard was injured we said he needed to take his time to come back because he's such an important player for us. What people don't understand is that Frank is our best playmaker and his statistics are outstanding over the last few seasons,' Emenalo said.

'Forty percent of the goals we score as a team come through him in some way, he is devastating in the final third and not only because he can score but he can play the final pass. He creates a lot of things, so it's good to have him back.

'This position in the 4-4-2 actually suits him, and what he does is temper his run forward a little bit more, because he has less cover behind him now. We missed him, and we needed players like him or Michael Essien, who can make mistakes, but recover from them. That's what big players do, dig deep and come back from bad situations. World-class players don't grow on trees and I'm not surprised Frank has been able to return and adjust so easily.'

The good times are back at the Bridge, and with the side now back in third place with a game in hand, an exciting close to the season is certainly shaping up.

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