One of the criticisms for Frank Lampard’s Chelsea this season is their defensive record.
Up until gameweek 28, Chelsea have conceded the most goals among the top 10 teams in the Premier League (39 , level with Tottenham Hotspur and Burnley).
From back four to back three, Lampard has made attempts to improve his team. Not only team shapes, the 41-year-old has also made some personnel changes in the back four throughout the season.
For the centre-back pairing, Chelsea started the season with Kurt Zouma and Fikayo Tomori. Then as the season went by, Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen became the main men in defence.
Let’s take a deeper look at Lampard options for centre-back positions.
Tomori spent a season under Lampard’s management at Derby County and was named their player of the season. He is fast, the quickest among Chelsea centre-backs I would say.
He is, however, a liability in the air. Data shows he has won the fewest headers compared to other options and won only 55% of his aerial duels. The 22-year-old also seems lacking in experience, being dispossessed once a game on average.
He had a fairly successful loan spell with Everton and is now Chelsea’s best aerial defender. The French international won the most headers per game (4.3) with a 77% success rate.
Like Tomori, however, Zouma often makes bad decisions and made the most fouls at Chelsea after N’Golo Kante and Cesar Azpilicueta.
Once you see him play, you’ll immediately notice he likes to ping the ball forward. Rudiger has had more long balls at Chelsea (11 per game) but with only a 49% success rate. The 27-year-old also won a mere 59% of his headers, poor numbers for a player of his stature.
Christensen is the more conservative type defender at Chelsea. He has a remarkable 90.1% passing accuracy (best at Chelsea) and the most reliable on the ball. The only criticisms for him are his passive play and his physical prowess. He often loses out in a physical battle which forces him to commit to a tackle.
Who should Lampard pick?
In a back four formation, pairing Christensen with either Rudiger or Zouma would make the best duo in general. Rudiger and Zouma are similar in style and Christensen is more of a safety net at the back.
Meanwhile, if Lampard decides to play a back three defence, Tomori is a good fit for the left side role. His pace will cover the advancing left wing-back and will be useful to close down opponents’ right-winger.