After the 3-2 defeat at the Britannia Stadium, I realised a shocking statistic. Chelsea have already conceded more goals than they did in the whole of Jose Mourinho’s debut season (15). Yes, you read it right – shocking isn’t it? With six goals conceded in the space of two Premier League games, it’s no question that we need to improve defensively. Jose himself even admitted that our defence this season is ‘a big concern’, and he’s not wrong.
When watching the game against Sunderland on Wednesday night, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for our attackers. Eden Hazard had one of the best games he’s ever had in a blue shirt, whilst Juan Mata was his usual brilliant self. However, I felt sorry for them as our defence really let them down. If it wasn’t for such bad defending we could have won that game three or four nil. We have been playing some good football recently, it’s just a shame our results don’t match that.
Some say it could be as simple as going back to the training ground and working on how we defend our set pieces. Four out of the six goals we conceded in the last week have been from a dead ball situation. It’s not as if we have small defenders, the likes of John Terry, Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic are big blokes; they should be winning the headers and blocking the opposition from attacking the ball.
Looking at some stats courtesy of @alrickbrown, the last eight shots on target against Chelsea (Basel 1, Southampton 1, Sunderland 3 and Stoke 3) have all resulted in goals. So that means that Cech hasn’t actually made a save in 276 minutes of play, and in that time has let in eight goals. That isn’t great by Cech, but there has been some brilliant shots on goal which quite frankly he couldn’t do much about, such as Assaidi’s winner at the weekend as well as some poor defending in front of him – but that isn’t the Cech we have become accustom too. It could just be a little blip, let’s hope so anyway.
I also think of fatigue when I try to formulate some excuses for our poor defensive displays recently. John Terry turned 33 this week and is still playing 90 minutes, usually twice a week. With only Gary Cahill our other centre back at the moment due to David Luiz’s knee injury, I feel as if fatigue could be holding the two back. In all honesty, I personally think for the time being, Branislav Ivanovic should be our third centre back until Luiz is back. We have Azpilicueta who would replace him on the right, allowing Ashley Cole to return to the team and prove his worth. Even then we have Ryan Bertrand who has seemingly disappeared this season providing back up to Ash. Michael Essien could even put in the odd shift at right back until David is back.
It will be interesting to see how we do in the next two games defensively. Bucharest, as well as Crystal Palace, don’t have any major threats in front of goal. Admittedly, Stoke and Sunderland didn’t particularly worry me prior to kick off – but they’re both a step better than Palace. I wonder whether Jose will field his favoured back four against Bucharest, seeing as we are already through to the next round, or whether he will experiment with something different. It’s a shame we sent Nathaniel Chalobah out on loan in a sense, he could have found some minutes on the pitch with Luiz being injured, and Bucharest would have been perfect from him to get some experience under his belt.
The question going into January is whether we should sign a new defender? Personally I would. However, I wouldn’t sign a centre back. I think Luke Shaw would be a good solution to our defensive worries. Signing Southampton’s left back would allow Cesar Azpilicueta to play in his favoured right back position, and then in-turn allowing Ivanovic to be cover at both right back and centre back. Branislav has been playing at right back for a few seasons now, but I still believe his strongest position is down the centre. His crosses from the right hand side have been pretty poor this season, often finding the closest opposing defender, whilst Azpi’s have looked dangerous – even on his weaker left foot.
I could just be worrying, this could just be a little slip up in the season, but going into a busy Christmas period against the likes of high flying Arsenal and Liverpool (also known as Luis Suarez) with only two centre backs does make feel a bit uneasy. Hopefully Ash can have a good game on Wednesday night and win his starting place back, allowing Azpi to move over to the right.