I’d absolutely love to see Mauricio Pochettino go for the juggler on Tuesday evening by showing bravery and being bold with his starting lineup.
I don’t think he will at all, but I think he should.
We have to score at least two goals on Tuesday in order to go through without having the painful luck of penalties. If we win 2-0 then we go through in 90 minutes, and even though I do think we will do that regardless of the lineup picked (within reason), why not give ourselves the very best chance of doing that with an attacking lineup?
We know they will be stubborn and playing in a low block with bodies behind the ball and being compact. In simpler terms, also know as parking the bus. They will look to squeeze and close the gaps, making it almost impossible for Chelsea to try and play through.
So two things will be key for me – width and having a box presence.
This is why our next number 9 we sign simply must have a physical presence and be a threat in the air. We face so many low blocks in this league and when trying to exhaust them with passing and possession doesn’t work, route one can.
When I say route one I don’t necessarily mean lumping the ball forward every time we get it, I mean more playing directly. So wingers beating players, getting crosses into the box, and just having the bravery to make that lobbed through ball or cut through defenders with a pass.
Chelsea need Broja on Tuesday, without a doubt for me. I know many of you don’t rate him, and as I’ve said, I’m not even against selling him. But he’s the only player with the physical presence that we need from our number 9, especially when playing against a low block.
One of our weapons tomorrow night simply must be using the width and crossing into Broja in the box. We will also need him to try and pin back their backline and be a nuisance to mark and follow, hopefully allowing other spaces to open up for players like Cole Palmer and Mykhailo Mudryk to use.
I mention Mudryk because for me he has to start tomorrow, but not instead of Raheem Sterling, AS WELL as Raheem Sterling.
I’d go with this:
Honestly, this just makes too much sense to me. No idea why Poch would not want to go with something like this but I very much doubt he will.
I think I am being ambitious maybe with Ben Chilwell starting. He has not yet started a game since his return from injury. But if he’s assessed and deemed fit enough to start, then he simply HAS to start because we need that wide threat, as mentioned above. Chilwell can deliver decent crosses into the box for Broja and Palmer, and even Sterling. Then Gilchrist could provide the defensive stability on the other side not bombing forward as much and turning our defence into a back three.
Palmer as a 10 for me is always going to make him more dangerous, and this allows for all three of our attacking midfielders to start the game and Sterling being on the right to hit some crosses.
Conor Gallagher comes out because for me, as I said last week, I just think when he is playing as a 10, he hinders our attack. People know I really value his strengths and assets, but he shouldn’t be starting as a 10 for me, especially not over Palmer and when he is fit, Nkunku.
I’ve not even mentioned Carney Chukwuemeka, who can also be a threat playing as a 10 and should be over Gallagher, at least in that position.
So please Poch, be brave, stick an extra and more natural attacker on the pitch and lets go for that early goal to settle the nerves and then make the game more open. If we go two goals up and they start coming at us, then we could make a tactical switch to shore things up.
But until then, we are chasing this game and we need to go for it and make sure we don’t let them hold firm for too long. The longer it goes without a breakthrough, the harder it will be to break them down.
We all know that without a doubt, Poch is not going to drop Gallagher tomorrow night.