If someone told you Liverpool are the greatest club in Europe at the moment, you might disagree, but you wouldn’t dismiss them with the same zeal you would someone who said the same of Chelsea or, worse, Arsenal or Manchester United. The Merseyside club deserve a place in Europe’s elite bracket, having won the Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup, and the Premier League in just three seasons.
Meanwhile, Chelsea have remained trapped in end-of-season top-four battles since lifting the title in 2017 and haven’t gone past the UCL quarterfinal stage in six seasons.
The one thing Chelsea have in common with the Merseyside outfit is that they seem to be on the same path Livepool followed to glory – yes, the long and avoidable path of focusing on the attack and ignoring the defence until it is hands-down obvious that the team is solving a problem they don’t have.
Just so you know where I am coming from with this, Chelsea conceded 54 goals in the 2019/20 season, the most by any team in the top ten. Chelsea recorded 9 Premier League clean sheets; only five teams managed less, two of which were eventually relegated.
The Chelsea goalkeepers made only 65 saves the whole campaign, with first-choice keeper Kepa Arizzabalaga ending the season with a measly 51.5 per cent save ratio, having faced 101 shots on goal.
That’s nothing to sneeze at for a team that put away more shots per game than the eventual title winners and were second only to City in passing accuracy and third, behind Liverpool and Pep Guardiola’s men, in average ball possession.
The Stamford Bridge outfit may have finished the season in a better position than most had anticipated, but they have a lot in common with the 2016/17 Liverpool team that won nothing but hearts.
Chelsea's midfield and attack are as good as anyone’s, but Kepa is a splitting image of Simon Mignolet, and the starting back four aren’t any better than the error-prone regiment of Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren, Ragnar Klavan, and Alberto Moreno.
Of course, Klopp had a plan that eventually worked, but Chelsea shouldn't wait two seasons to get their own Alisson and Virgil Van Dijk.
A good defence would make Chelsea legit title challengers and expedite the Blues’ journey back to the glory days.
Even Sir Alex Ferguson himself said it once: "Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles!"Published 18 Aug 2020, 14:39 IST