Can Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres play together?
Roberto di Matteo has shown an extraordinary amount of tactical flexibility in his first few games with Chelsea. Yes, he's started with a 4-2-3-1 almost exclusively, but he's been experimenting with different positions for players throughout. Ramires has played as a left winger. Frank Lampard has played in the hole and in a double pivot. David Luiz has appeared at right back. The interim manager is experimenting with the personnel in a way that Andre Villas-Boas never did.
Di Matteo's also been more than happy to play with the team shape during matches, most notably during the Napoli game, where Chelsea spent extra time in a loose 4-4-2 that featured Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres on the pitch simultaneously for the first time since the 3-1 win against Norwich City at the start of the season. Now he's hinting that there might be more of that to come:
Its great for this football club [to have the problem of having to choose between Torres and Drogba]. We have that firepower in the team and its fantastic. We will try and do our best to exploit the good form of both.
I usually look at the form of the player and the opposition we have to play and see which team suits best that opposition to win the game. I put them [Torres and Drogba] in together for the Napoli game. We have a fantastic squad and it hurts to leave players out of that calibre.
If the game requires it [that I change the system] then yes [I would change it]. It [the formation] has served us well for the last four games and I think the players like it. I would consider changing the formation to create problems for the opposition.
This is an interesting development. Although I like the 4-2-3-1 as a fit for Chelsea's current personnel, it's probably not the best tool for all occasions. As I mentioned in our Manchester City vs. Chelsea preview, the Blues might be better served in a 4-4-2 diamond at the Etihad Stadium today, and it sounds as though di Matteo will at least consider a two-striker shape for this match.
Could there be a formation change coming? I'm not sure - it would be a very bold move from the caretaker manager - but it would be a brave, and, in my eyes, probably correct thing to do. One of the major weaknesses of the previous regime was the increasing reluctance to try anything new as the season became more and more difficult (which, considering the pressure Villas-Boas was under for much of the year, is more of a reflection of the pressures of the job rather than his own tactical talents), and I'm very happy to see that changing under di Matteo.