Although the good results in the early part of the season achieved by some free-flowing football overshadowed this problem, eventually as time progressed, opposition clubs managed to unearth this flaw which has led to the club getting eliminated from Champions League and Roberto Di Matteo getting sacked.
Chelsea have already strengthened their striking position in the January transfer window by bringing in Demba Ba and will look to strengthen the midfield before the window closes giving their rising problems in that area.
The club has been linked with Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini for quite some time who has a rumoured buy-out clause of £22 million. Goal.com looks at the club's potential target and attempts to determine whether he would be the ideal replacement to one of Chelsea's most faithful servants in Frank Lampard who is destined to leave at the end of the season.
|Is he the answer to Chelsea's midfield issues?|
In Belgium, Fellaini had built a reputation of being a box-to-box midfielder something similar to what Frank Lampard has played for a long time. The Premier League player of the month for November has lived up to Everton's expectations over the past few seasons after the Merseyside club shelled out a record fee of £15 million to bring the towering Belgian from Standard Liege.
Standing at 6'4" tall, Fellaini has been a potent figure for Everton when going forward and providing an aerial threat during set-pieces and crosses. His strong presence in the midfield is something Chelsea have lacked this season. He is one of the elite tacklers in the Premier League and also provides a healthy balance between holding onto the ball and going forward, something similar to what Yaya Toure does so effectively at Manchester City.
|Player||Appearances||Goals||Assists||Shots Per Game||Yellow Cards||Aerial Duels Won||Pass Success %|
Fellaini started off his career as a holding midfielder for Everton which resulted in him winning the Best Young Player award at the club although his role has been slightly changed by David Moyes thereafter who now deploys him right behind the striker and the Belgian has not disappointed in that role. The 25-year old has done well playing in his new position setting up attacks and holding up play quite seamlessly.
Fellaini has the ability of winning balls in the midfield and is certainly an upgrade to what John Obi Mikel offers to Chelsea in that role. In Mikel, Chelsea have an amazing defensive midfielder who is well known to slow the pace of the game down given that he tends to spend more time on the ball. This isn't the case with Fellaini as we have seen in his time with Everton.
Apart from posing an attacking threat, Fellaini has the ability to provide a defensive cover allowing the full backs to move forward frequently. His ability to play anywhere in the midfield makes him an even bigger threat. His versatility nature can be termed as a boon for Chelsea in the Financial Fair Play (FFP) era.
|A more versatile option in the midfield|
Over the years, Frank Lampard has made his presence felt in this Chelsea side by getting those crucial goals from midfield. His timely runs into the opposition box has been often praised and it is something Chelsea will miss once he leaves at the end of the season. In Fellaini though, Chelsea have a handy to this problem. The midfielder, like Lampard has an eye for goal which is pretty clear from his goal tally this season. Fellaini is 2 goals short of matching his best goal tally in a season. His work rate is second to none which adds more brownie points to his attributes.
Fellaini also provides Chelsea the option of a "False 9" player. The Belgian's excellent heading ability and chest control provides Benitez with an alternate option when going forward. Although the Blues have recently signed Demba Ba to provide competition for Fernando Torres, Fellaini being employed as a striker is not at all a bad option.
Fellaini though has his fair share of weaknesses none more obvious than his persistent fouling. Getting ten yellow cards in his first 17 games for Everton marked him as a person who had the ability to stop attacks. The Belgian has recently built himself a reputation of being a hot head after earning himself a 3 match suspension for headbutting Stoke City's Ryan Shawcross.
"I am just starting my fifth season at Everton, this will be one of my last. I have seen everything. In January or at the end of the season I will turn to another club or championship"
It is quite clear that the Belgian will most probably leave the blue half of Merseyside although his contract extends till 2015. There is no doubt this Chelsea side is full with quality players, but what Chelsea have lacked is a versatile player who can be a bridge between their defensive and attacking third since the departure of Michael Ballack in 2010.
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