Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Oscar and Chelsea

As several media outlets (including Sky Sports) begin to report a deal between International's Oscar and Chelsea to be nearing completion there are two main questions I would like to dissect; 'How will he fit the system?' and 'Is he needed?'

Firstly how will he fit? 

With Oscar's general positioning for club and country being slightly different it is already clear to most his potential to play many different roles within the Chelsea setup. In terms of general AM play, Oscar's composure on the ball and eye for the killer pass make him just as likely as Hazard, Mata, Marin and De Bruyne to start matches. I would argue that although he played a similar role to Mata this season for International, his real potential for Chelsea may lay in an ability and desire to drop back to receive the ball deep, this he displayed in his last 4 matches for Brazil.

Most pundits and journalist I've come across are predicting Chelsea to start with a 4 2 3 1 formation. Assuming this is correct the obvious line up would would see Oscar starting behind the striker with Mata and Hazard playing tight on the flanks. The two DM positions to be filled by Lampard, Meireles, Mikel, McEachran and, assuming he is fit, Essien; leaving De Bruyne and Marin as squad players. Although strong, to my mind this could still lack creativity in the midfield with the 3 most creative players pushing up leaving gaps between the lines. The lack of creativity combined with the age of Lampard and injury prone nature of Essien leave the position of DM lacking real quality. Oscar's natural ability and composure on the ball could see him dropping back to be an effective deep lying creative option. Much like Modric, Pirlo or Xavi, if Oscar can develop his physic (which there is plenty of time for) he could be the missing player Chelsea's midfeild have been looking for. Playing a more deep lying role this would leave players like Lampard and Essien as becoming more squad and utility players, given their age this should not have be a surprise to anyone.

Whatever is decided about Oscar's postion and however he may develop it is clear that Chelsea now have a wealth of creative talent in the AM and wide positions, all of whom should be able to link and swap roles fluidly given the nature of their styles. 

Is he needed?

Much like the last, this question is one more of opinion and 'time will tell' than fact. If Oscar is able to develop into a deep lying creative player, we may look back on his purchase and claim it to be one of the most important Chelsea signatures of the last few years. However it is tempting to look at the team sheet and argue that if he doesn't play as a creative DM then his ability may be going to waste as a squad player, regularly being rotated. Both Hazard and Mata can play the AM role just as well as Oscar and some pundits may look at the signing and say Chelsea should have signed a right back, especially if players like Sturridge, Lakaku, Piazon, and Kakuta are not loaned out. 

There is no doubting Oscar is a talented and versatile player, capable of becoming key for Chelsea or simply drowning in a squad of extreme depth. My hope for Chelsea and Oscar is that he can develop into the creative DM Chelsea need and that some of the fringe players (Kakuta, Piazon, Lakaku) are loaned out to develop their skills until they can realistically fight for regular positions.

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