LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 13: Nicolas Anelka of Chelsea celebrates as he scores their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Bolton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge on April 13, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Continuing our series of positional breakdowns of the Chelsea squad (GK, CB, LB, RB, CF), we get into positions that are a little more interchangeable. The players we're going to be discussing in this section would be players primarily suited to playing as a wing in a 4-3-3 system, as that seems to be the system we prefer to employ given the choice. Many of these players would typically be capable of playing as wide midfielder in a 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1 system, and several would also be capable of playing as a suppoting striker/attacking midfielder in the mold of Rafael Van Der Vart. What we do to address this position over the summer will likely have quite a bit to do with who is coaching our team, but regardless of what system we run going forward width will be needed to maximize the effectiveness of Fernando Torres.
Currently our club are loaded with naturally left footed players, and when we've played a 4-3-3 we've played a center forward on the right flank (usually Nicolas Anelka, but Salomon Kalou and Daniel Sturridge have seen time there as well). The tendencies of these players to drift inside combined with Jose Bosingwa's absence for most of the season has left us without much of an attacking presence on the right flank this season. Ramires and Michael Essien have provided us with some overlapping cover from the right side of the midfield, but both of these players are more box to box style players and tend gravitate towards the center of the field as well. This would be ideal in a 4-3-3 with either a natural wing forward or an attack minded right back, but when the club lacks both of these it really minimizes our effectiveness from the right flank.
Milan Lalkovic may be the most likely player we have in the reserve and youth ranks to get a good look this summer, or even later on this season depending where we sit in the table as the season winds down. He's been very impressive for the youth ranks this season, and his best attribute is his world class speed. He's also one of the few right footed players we have that is naturally suited to a forward attacking role. Lalkovic has shown the ability to play as a center forward this year as well, probably increasing his chances of getting a look with the first team in doing so. At 19 years of age, he's not one the we need to rush to make a decision on but is worth keeping an eye on. He's not likely to become our first choice on the right for several years though (if ever), and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see a loan spell in his near future to gauge how he performs against higher level competition.
WIth the exception of Lalkovic, we don't really have any highly promising players in the reserve ranks or on loan that would be best suited to the right wing. We had another pair of internal options we allowed to leave last summer in Scott Sinclair and Miroslav Stoch, both of whom were fearing the lack of an opportunity coming with Chelsea. That may well be the case, but in Stoch's case especially I think he'd have earned himself a good look had he remained with the club. Largely due to their departures, we really lack depth in the academy on the right. Still, if fringy youth players aren't happy with their role, I think it's best for future recruitment to allow them to leave with a minimum of hastle.
With Anelka's advancing age and Kalou and Sturridge not being natural fits to the position, I'd fully expect us to focus this summer on adding a younger player who can be a nutural fit as a right wing but also slot in as an attack minded midfielder or right sided midfielder depending on the system we employ. Two players we've been linked heavily to that would fit this bill are Alexis Sanchez and Eden Hazard. We've also been linked to up and comer Alex Oxalde-Chamberlain this winter, who at this point has played only as a wing. I'd fully expect to hear their names mentioned heavily as the summer approaches, so it might be worth keeping your fingers crossed that Udinesse finish outside of the top four in Serie A if you're a Sanchez fan. If Ancelotti remains at the Bridge, I think it's also inevitable that we'd continue to be connected to Pato regardless of the fact that AC Milan likely will not have any reason to sell their best young player. He'd be an ideal fit for the squad though, as he's a very similar (and younger) player to Luis Suarez (who was my personal favorite to fill this void).
How we address this position this summer as well as which center forwards we retain will tell us quite a bit about how we intend to shape our squad going forward. As of now we have adequate players to play a moderately effective 4-3-3 formation, but width on the right is still an issue that doesn't look to have a ton of internal solutions going forward. Please let us know how you feel about the right wing in the poll, and feel free to discuss what you would do to shore up the position in the comments below.
How confident are you in Chelsea's current depth at the Right Wing going forward?
Very (2 votes)
Somewhat (19 votes)
Not at all (32 votes)
53 total votes