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Aug 18, 2009

Diamonds are forever, insists Chelsea's Ballack

Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack has insisted Chelsea will stick with the new diamond formation despite needing an injury time goal to beat Hull City at the weekend.

New manager Carlo Ancelotti has abandoned the 4-3-3 formation made so successful under Jose Mourinho, which saw two wingers deployed in support of a lone striker.

The Italian has preferred to play with two strikers, with a midfield diamond in behind.

Ballack is confident that, given time, the Chelsea players will grow into the change of style.

Chelsea travel to Sunderland on Tuesday and will again be expected to come away with three points, and the German international sees no reason to go back on all the work done in pre-season.

"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.

"In a diamond your attention is more on controlling the play, you have more ball in midfield and one more man there as well.

"So 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.

"But there are many ways to win, there's not just one way to play football and you can have success with any system if you play it right.

"It is not all about the system we play, that's just a new thing for us that we have to adapt to.''

Coach Ancelotti himself believes there were positive signs that his players could fit into the system, and there would be no need to splash out on any new faces before the transfer market closes.

"I have seen them playing in the system we want to use and I have options with so many great players to choose from,'' said Ancelotti.

"We have not had to spend lots and bring in many new players because we are happy with our squad.''

Chelsea are unlikely to have any of their injured contingent back in time for the trip to Sunderland. Juliano Belletti (Achilles), Alex (groin) and new signing Yuri Zhirkov (knee) are almost certain to miss out. Joe Cole and Paulo Ferreira are also sidelined with knee injuries.

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