Thomas Tuchel’s 3-4-3 formation has worked quite well at Chelsea but could hinder two natural wingers Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic.
Tuchel is known for deploying different systems throughout his career — and it’s safe to say he is likely going to come up with different new systems at Chelsea.
The 3-4-3 formation itself is not exactly new to most Chelsea players.
Several senior players such as Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso played in a similar formation under Antonio Conte, while Frank Lampard also occasionally used the formation last season.
However, there is one big difference between Tuchel’s 3-4-3 and Conte or Lampard’s.
Tuchel’s unique 3-4-3
While Conte and Lampard often use the two wingbacks as both auxiliary defenders and attackers, Tuchel’s wingbacks are mainly attackers.
As seen from the graphic above, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ben Chilwell (v Wolves) and Marcos Alonso (v Burnley) effectively operated as right and left wingers in a 3-2-5 formation.
The licences to attack given to wingbacks came at the expense of two attackers behind the striker who had to play more centrally.
Pulisic and Ziyech at a disadvantage?
The likes of Mason Mount and Kai Havertz certainly wouldn’t mind playing as No.10s, as well as Timo Werner who likes to play behind a striker anyway.
For Ziyech and Pulisic who prefer more conventional winger roles, however, the new roles could be rather limiting.
Obviously, the pair are still capable of playing in central areas.
But they have gone from arguably guaranteed starters as wingers under Lampard to competing with those who naturally excel playing in those two central roles.
Unless, of course, Tuchel can somehow turn Ziyech and Pulisic into wingbacks like Hudson-Odoi which seems very unlikely.
As things stand, five Chelsea attackers: Pulisic, Ziyech, Havertz, Mount, and Werner, are competing for two spots behind the striker — and the two wingers are arguably at a disadvantage.