Advertisement

Guardiola plan and Palmer benefit - Five tactical changes Enzo Maresca will bring to Chelsea

Enzo Maresca could soon be unveiled as Chelsea boss
-Credit: (Image: Alex Pantling/Getty Images)


Enzo Maresca is the latest top-flight manager to emerge from the school of Pep Guardiola. He will become the second coach to take on a ‘big six’ club having formerly been Guardiola’s understudy, with Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta now challenging the man himself for Premier League titles.

Chelsea will hope Maresca can do the same at Stamford Bridge, having impressed with his tactics at Leicester City in the Championship. The Italian boasts a different set-up to Mauricio Pochettino that players will need to get used to.

Maresca's teams play as one organism, with each player having specific roles for certain phases of play. Many of his tactics have continued on since his work with Manchester City’s academy and will look eerily familiar to many Premier League fans.

Five key elements stand out and will perhaps form the basis of his philosophy at Chelsea, as identified by The Coaches’ Voice.

Inverting full-backs

As first seen early on in Guardiola’s reign at City, Maresca instructs a full-back to come into defensive midfield when his team are on the ball. Usually, this is just the one player rather than both.

The goalkeeper is asked to act almost like another defender in his positioning, with one of the centre-backs pushing wide to recreate a back four. It’s likely Maresca will use a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation as a result, with this tack being central to his play.

READ MORE: Enzo Maresca can save Chelsea millions on summer transfers

READ MORE: Huge new Chelsea manager announcement as Enzo Maresca talks continue

Bombing midfielder

The inverted full-back allows a midfielder to push on and take up positions in the final third, handing extra support to the striker. It’s a role Cole Palmer would benefit from if played through the middle.

These players can be seen underlapping wingers when the opposing full-back comes out to press while number eights are permitted to run in behind. The idea is to hold possession so such runs may not be used but instead buy time for the on-pushing deeper-lying midfielders to take control.

Deeper build-up play

The onwards pushing from the attacking players causes the opposition to be pinned back and thus opens up space for these low-lying midfielders to operate. Gradually, the ball is worked into the final third where defenders seem entrenched, trying to spark a counter-attack - which leads into the next two tactics.

Defending the counter

If the ball is lost, then Maresca has five players sitting back, usually in a 3-2 formation including the inverted full-back in midfield. This means going through the middle is problematic for the opposition, usually forcing them wide.

By doing so, it allows time for other players to get back and fill out numbers. It leads to Maresca seeing his side ‘lock’ the ball on one side of the pitch.

Locking the ball

Maresca tends to defend in a 4-4-2 system when all players are back and are attempting a high press. The number eight is asked to almost dovetail with the striker while the opposite winger tucks in and effectively pushes the deeper midfielders to pin the ball in on one side of the pitch.

The number eight is there to trigger the press if the ball is switched, with the team shuffling across to snuff out any quick transition as best as possible.

If a deeper defensive position is required then a 4-1-4-1 formation occurs, with one central midfielder dropping between the lines and the number eight tucking into the centre of the park in his place.