Who should start in Chelsea's attacking trio?

Cesc Fabregas Barcelona

Chelsea have a wealth of offensive options, but who should be awarded a starting position in their attacking trio.

Since his return to Stamford Bridge, Jose Mourinho has regularly lined his team up in a fluid 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 formation, whereby the number ten drops deeper into a more conservative midfield role when needed. Although able to influence the game from a deeper position, the key role of the number ten is still playmaking, and, when combined with the two wide men, the three men behind the striker offer the greatest outlet for creativity.

A number of teams currently manipulate some form of this fluid front three, although few have the depth of attacking quality that the Blues possess. Eden Hazard, Oscar, Willian, Mohamed Salah, Andre Schurrle, and Cesc Fabregas can all stake a claim to one of the three vacant positions, whilst Fernando Torres has also dropped into this deeper role during the West London club's tour of Europe.

However, selecting a front three is not as easy as picking the three best players on paper; it requires a combination of various traits that excel in each others company. With Hazard all but guaranteed a starting spot, with the left winger position his to lose, a central and right sided attacker have to compliment the Belgian's skill set - a set that focuses upon directness and pace.

To compensate for the 23-year old's lack of defensive capabilities last season, Mourinho built his side around the centrality of Brazil star Oscar, who started the season in fine form. However, a physical burning out occurred, and the youngster failed to continue his form into the post-Christmas period. Although he impressed at the World Cup, he still has had little break since moving to Stamford Bridge, and Mourinho may choose to rest him for the opening weeks of the season.

The absence of Oscar during pre-season - who has just returned following the World Cup - has seen new arrival Cesc Fabregas feature in a number of friendlies. Both goals and assists have come to the former Arsenal and Barcelona man, and he has excelled in his favoured number ten position - allowing him to break forward as he did with such success as a Gunner. Although able to play as one of the two midfielders in the deeper pivot, the static nature of the deep-lying playmaker would reduce his efficiency, and his lack of defensive capabilities could dismantle the teams function as a unit.

However, to make up for Fabregas playing as the number 10, the central two could include the intense pressing of Oscar, who can combine his defensive energy with his creative abilities to act as a box-to-box midfielder - creating something of a 4-1-4-1 in the process.

Willian featured heavily in his first season in English football, impressing on numerous occasions. He portrays the archetypal Mourinho player; quick, hard-working, and willing to put the team before himself. However, as an attacker he has flattered to deceive, scoring just four times and assisting twice in the Premier League last season. His lack of creative ability causes him to often lose the ball in the final third, and has been the cause for calls to see him feature in a deeper role - thus playing to his best abilities.

Despite his more physical approach to the game, he works in an attacking pivot with Eden Hazard, allowing the Belgian to get forward whilst Willian holds back and covers the opposite wing. It creates an almost traditional strike partnership, with Hazard playing off the physical front man - the role for both Diego Costa and Didier Drogba to fill this season - whilst Willian fills in at midfield to prevent the counter attack. It is the same role of defensive winger that Ramires has occasional performed, and both Brazilians offer the same required work rate - even if both are let down by their technical ability.

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Andre Schurrle and Mohamed Salah represent almost identical players - despite the German holding a World Cup winners medal. Both are known for their pace and directness, and focus heavily upon the attacking side of the game, rather than the defensive. The similarities with Eden Hazard are striking, and both men would be lucky to regularly appear in the starting line up. However, their pace makes them perfect impact substitutes - as Schurrle proved at the World Cup - and they are sure to feature in the latter stages of games against tiring defences.

It promises to be an exciting season for the Blues, with so many varied attacking options, and if they can start to convert some of the numerous chances they create, the Premier League title could already be on the way back to West London.

Who would you like to see starting for Chelsea this season?

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