Chelsea's new diamond formation will come under further scrutiny against Sunderland on Tuesday night but Germany captain Michael Ballack insists it is up to the players to make it work.
New coach Carlo Ancelotti has abandoned the use of wingers and replaced them with two strikers and a midfield diamond that struggled to get the better of Hull in their opening game at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
"In a diamond your attention is more on controlling the play, you have more ball in midfield and one more man there as well," said Ballack.
Chelsea won 2-1 thanks to a late strike by Didier Drogba but at times the space afforded them by Ancelotti's midfield was exploited to the full by Phil Brown's side. The system works superbly when going forward but if the midfield four are not tracking back when possession is lost, it leaves yawning gaps for the opposition to exploit.
Ballack was a half-time substitute for John Obi Mikel as Ancelotti looked for more aggression in the second half. Now the midfielder is hoping for a place in the starting line-up against Steve Bruce's side at the Stadium of Light and he remains convinced the system can work.
"Everybody is a little bit expectant about what we can achieve this year," said Ballack.
"We have a new manager and we play a new system. We played it under Jose Mourinho when I arrived and it feels different not to play with wingers and to play with two strikers.
"So tactically things will be different for us but it depends how you implement it, by which I mean you can play any system with good players and they have to show their ability.
"It is not about the system, it is about how individuals perform on the pitch and whether they do the right things, so it is not as simple as just picking a system.
"You gain a small advantage through the centre but there's more hard work for the four midfielders because they have a lot of work to do on and off the ball in this system."
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