In the near future Carlo Ancelotti is expected to receive a boost through the return of several players from injury. It’s easy to decide that Frank Lampard will go straight back into the starting line-up and Salomon Kalou will be on the bench (despite him looking ever-more consistent) but Ancelotti faces more of a problem when deciding on the role of Jose Bosingwa. The defensive places of Ashley Cole and John Terry are cemented, that goes without saying, but Ancelotti will have a big decision to make on the other two defensive positions.
Jose Bosingwa, who was bought from FC Porto for over £16 million, had started brilliantly in Ancelotti’s first season before his campaign was ended on October 17th. In the recent past it has proved a real challenge to try and find a right-back who is as defensively solid as Paulo Ferreira and as good as Juliano Belletti was at contributing to the attack, but Bosingwa was really beginning to look the part for this role at the beginning of our double-winning season. His silky play down the right-hand side of the pitch meant that Chelsea were equally threatening down either wing; and he, like Ashley Cole, had the energy to defend also.
With all of this in mind, the injury to Bosingwa seemed a real blow for our season – Chelsea finally had a right-back who seemed to fit into a title-challenging team and he was, as was eventually learned, to be out for the season. However, his place was very satisfactorily filled by Branislav Ivanovic – who turned out to be one of the best, and certainly the most consistent, players of the year. Ivanovic, who was originally bought as a centre-back, would always be remembered in Chelsea history for his two goals at Anfield, but, mainly due to not being chosen much by managers, it was assumed that he wouldn’t go much further in a Chelsea shirt. Ivanovic is defensively better than Bosingwa and works hard to contribute to the attack – though he does not fit the attacking role as comfortably as Bosingwa.
Meanwhile, since the departure of Carvalho, Alex has become a permanent fixture in the centre of defence, alongside John Terry. His performances have always been solid and consistent throughout his Chelsea career. He has rarely been the subject of much post-match discussion – which means, as a defender, he has been doing very little wrong – except for when he scores one of his superb goals (like at the weekend against Arsenal).
For the very near future Ancelotti does not have a decision to make on the three of them – Alex is expected to be out for a couple of games whilst Bosingwa should return. However, when all three are fully fit, Carlo Ancelotti must make the important decision on which two, out of the three, should start for Chelsea. Bosingwa is the nearest thing we have to a right-footed Ashley Cole, but both Ivanovic and Alex have been, arguably, our two most consistent players for the past year. Added to Ancelotti’s problem is the fact that both Ivanovic and Bosingwa are out of contract at the end of the year.
Personally, I would like to see Chelsea’s attack looking equally threatening on the right as on the left; another attacking can only be a good thing – and may really help towards the latter stages of the Champions League. So, as long as he keeps consistent defensively, I would like to see Bosingwa in that role. As far as the centre-back position goes, the decision is very tough, but, I feel, that Ivanovic deserves his place in the side slightly more than Alex.
It is Carlo Ancelotti’s, unenviable, decision to make but other opinions will be greatly accepted here.