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Chelsea squad stuck in the middle

TEAMtalk's James Dixon believes Jose Mourinho's Chelsea squad is far too midfield-heavy as the new Premier League season edges ever nearer.

Last Updated: 18/07/13 at 17:06 Post Comment

Chelsea: Have too many central midfielders, according to Dixon

Chelsea: Have too many central midfielders, according to Dixon

How many times has the phrase; 'too many cooks spoil the broth' be related to football? Surely never has the saying been so appropriate as to describe the current Chelsea midfield.

Looking back at Jose Mourinho's first stint at Chelsea, the foundation for his success was based upon the principle of a competitive 22-man squad, which could allow for rotation of players without compromising quality over the course of a long season.

But since taking the Chelsea reins for a second time in June, the club have added two new signings in what is an already congested midfield quota.

Recent additions Andre Schurrle and Marco van Ginkel would strengthen most teams, however Chelsea's central midfield now consists of 10 out-and-out midfielders, in which the majority cannot just be passed off as reserve players and youth products breaking through from the academy.

The list of men seemingly stuck in the middle includes; Frank Lampard, Oscar, Juan Mata, Ramires, Mikel, Marco van Ginkel as well as players who have returned from previous loan spells; Kevin De Bruyne, Michael Essien, Josh McEachran and Gael Kakuta.

This also excludes David Luiz, who was deployed in a midfield position with some success last season, as well as Blues wide men Victor Moses, Eden Hazard, Lucas Piazon and new boy Andre Schurrle, who can play as a forward but has spent a good period of his career on the wing.

Unless Jose is attempting to reintroduce total football, 14 midfielders is a ludicrous figure especially for a team that is crying out for balance and additions in other positions.

Comparisons can be made to other Premier League teams who have bulked up their midfield line.

Manchester United have 11 midfielders, but they include veteran Ryan Giggs and long-term absentee Darren Fletcher. Another factor to take into account is the issue of balance in a squad; United currently boast four strikers with international experience whereas Chelsea have only two.

League rivals Manchester City so far have two strikers, similarly to the Stamford Bridge outfit, but only have 11 midfielders. The Arsenal set-up is also the same as City's with 11 midfielders and two front men.

Despite Mourinho recently stating the club are under no pressure to sell players and appears content with the state of the squad, the Portuguese manager has inherited this situation and even one of his most recent signings, Schurrle, was not sanctioned by him while he was manager.

What you can be certain of is, come the start of the season Jose will have loaned out another batch of midfielders he deems surplus to requirements for the season, but you can guarantee that more than one will be sold.

The problem stems from Chelsea's relatively new policy with the club focus on promoting youth, but while the Blues have been blessed with an abundance of talented midfielders, they simply can't play them all at once.

In an ideal world they would have the quality to enter the fray alongside experienced men like Lampard, Ramires and Mata to develop their raw ability, but that can't happen unless the current batch of trimmed.

Bizarrely still Jose appears to focus his concentration on building on his current midfield. Rumours linking the club with Italian midfield international Daniele De Rossi and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney - a player who recently has moved into a more midfield role and a position seen by many to suit him more in the future.

Whatever the remainder of the transfer window brings Chelsea need to readdress the balance to the side. Jose must drag the club from its fixation with the midfield and focus on where games are won - in attack.

Follow James on Twitter at @JDixon_88

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