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2013-11-21T15:34:00 Updated 2015-02-18T23:30:18

Tactically speaking - Chelsea

Tactically Speaking

The Official Website takes an in-depth look at how visitors Chelsea could line up on Saturday, while also focusing on the contribution of West Ham United's former Blues midfielder Joe Cole.

West Ham United

Joe Cole

Ahead of the visit of London neighbours Chelsea on Saturday evening, have taken the time to look at the numbers ahead of the clash.

The Blues began the campaign as Barclays Premier League title favourites, but currently sit four points behind table toppers Arsenal in fourth place. The away form of the West London side has left a lot to be desired this term, having won just one of their five league outings away from Stamford Bridge, compared to five out of six at home.

Ahead of the encounter, West Ham United, who currently sit in 16th place in table on ten points, will be hoping add to Chelsea's dropped points in their 2-2 draw with West Brom last time out. West Ham, meanwhile, will be looking to return to winning ways after defeat last time out at Norwich City.

One player that may be crucial to the Hammers securing victory is Joe Cole. The 32-year-old spent seven years with the Blues after leaving West Ham in 2003, making 183 appearances, netting 28 goals and providing a further 24 assists, but will be looking to showcase his attacking credentials against his former employers.

Cole's main form of attack is his ability to pick out a teammate from wide, evidenced in his strength of 'crossing'. He may have been sidelined for a chunk of the season as a result of injury, but when available the Englishman is capable of picking out a Hammers player, having garnered a respectable 27.3% cross success rate this term.

With West Ham boasting a strength of 'creating scoring chances' and a style of play being 'attempt crosses often', Cole's approach to the game will be of benefit against a Chelsea side that has underperformed on the road. Having conceded in each of their last four away games, the opportunity to capitalise on their poor away form is there to be taken.

What is more, Chelsea's statistically calculated weaknesses, two of which are 'defending against attacks down the wings' and 'defending against through ball attacks', play into Cole's hands.

This was exhibited best in the 2-0 win over Cardiff City on the opening day of the season, in which Cole was awarded the man of the match with a rating of 8.2. Netting in the victory capped off an impressive display for the experienced midfielder in an encounter where he executed one key pass and completed three successful dribbles.

If he can turn out a similar performance against Chelsea on Saturday, then West Ham could repeat the 3-1 win they secured over the Blues last December.

Cole may have only made two starts this season, but he has the capability to attack the opposition when called upon and will be confident of exhibiting his talents to his former club, should he play a part.

* is a website and one of the fastest growing in the sports industry, specialising in the in-depth analysis of detailed football data. Follow @WhoScored on Twitter.


Possible starting XI


Ivanovic  Cahill  Terry  Azpilicueta

Ramires  Lampard

Willian  Oscar  Hazard


Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho famously likes to have two players available for every position on the pitch. For that reason, predicting the Blues' starting XI is a difficult task.

However, one position where we can be confident of picking the starter is in goal, where Petr Cech continues to hold the gloves. The Czech Republic international is a physically intimidating specimen at 6'5" but, at 31 and following the serious head injury he suffered in October 2006, he perhaps lacks the dominance he achieved at his peak. For a goalkeeper, the left-footed Cech is a fine distributor of the ball.

The full-back berths have been less certain positions for Mourinho. In recent weeks, Branislav Ivanovic has started at right-back. The Serb is just a very good, strong, solid, powerful all-round defender who can also run with the ball and pose a threat from set plays with his heading ability.

At left-back, England international Ashley Cole could remain on the sidelines with a rib injury, having been left out in favour of Spaniard Cesar Azpilicueta for Chelsea's last Barclays Premier League and Champions League matches. Cole is now 32 and not as quick as he once was. For that reason, he does not buccaneer forward like he did in his prime, but Cole remains a fine, mobile and tenacious defender.

If Azpilicueta continues, he is right-sided and is a natural right-back. A consistent defender, he will cut inside to distribute the ball. A third option at left-back is England international Ryan Bertrand.

At centre-back, Mourinho may also opt to make a change, with Brazil star David Luiz hoping to replace either John Terry or Gary Cahill.

Luiz is an eye-catching player who likes to play out from the back, either with an expansive pass or by bringing the ball forward himself. However, it was Luiz's defensive frailties that saw him dropped following the 2-0 Premier League defeat at Newcastle United last month.

Into his place has come Cahill, the strong, no-nonsense England defender who poses a major threat from attacking set pieces. The same can be said of Terry, who has a huge presence and gets things right defensively the majority of the time, despite his relative lack of mobility. Terry is also a safe user of the ball, completing 91.7 per cent of the team-high 650 passes he has made this season.

In front of them, Mourinho likes to deploy two holding midfielders in a 4-2-3-1 formation. The first is Frank Lampard who, at 35, continues to use the ball as effectively as ever, even if he has seemingly put a quota on those lung-bursting runs into the opposition penalty area. He has also recorded two assists - more than any other Chelsea player.

Next to him, Brazilian Ramires is an energetic player whose strength is belied by a wiry frame. He has made a team-high 33 tackles so far. A clever and effective player, Ramires can also pop up and have an influence in the attacking third.

Chelsea's three attacking midfielders interchange with expert ease. Central man Oscar will pull opposition defenders and holding midfielders out of position, creating space for wide men Eden Hazard and Willian - if picked - to exploit.

Oscar is given a virtual free role in the current Chelsea system, carrying the ball before creating chances for his colleagues or for himself. He and Hazard are Chelsea's leading league scorers with four goals each.

The smaller, more compact Hazard and Willian - or Spain star Juan Mata, if he is preferred - adapt to Oscar's movement. All are capable of running at their man or picking a pass, while also presenting problems with their movement off the ball.

Andre Schurrle is another option in the wide positions. The Germany international is more likely to run with the ball than play give-and-goes with his team-mates.

Up front, Mourinho has one of three international strikers to pick from in Samuel Eto'o, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba.

At the age of 32, Eto'o continues to pose a huge threat with his mobility, ability to find space in the box and accurate finishing. Torres is a more direct player who will look to run in behind or create chances for himself, while Ba is not afraid to let fly from long range.

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