Chelsea's problems lie at the back as Branislav Ivanovic is getting found out
"It is a fake result. We were the best team by far in the second half. What they did in the first we did in the second.
"We dominated and when they feel they are in trouble, and they felt, they changed Aguero and Sterling, they try to recover control of the game is exactly when they scored the second goal. For me, completely fake.
"Their goalkeeper was good and we couldn't score. They were only coming up with long balls and even that we controlled that. Not one single problem in the second half, they had lots."
Even the ‘Special One’ for sure doesn’t believe a single word out of what he said after Chelsea’s chastening defeat to Manchester City last Sunday.
A torrid start it has been for Jose Mourinho and Chelsea this new Premier League campaign as the reigning champions have picked up the solitary point from their opening two games while looking rather poor and being second best on the day to their opponents.
In all fairness, it could easily have been two losses on the bounce to start the season had they not been a touch fortunate in their opener against Swansea City. Traditionally fast starters, Chelsea are now facing an intense scrutiny of their summer transfer activity as well as the performance of some of their key players.
A high-flying start it has not been for the Blues and from the displays so far, it appears their wings have been clipped. More specifically, their right wing.
Chelsea’s Serbian tank is getting found out
Branislav Ivanovic, the human tank used in the right-back position by Mourinho, was one of Chelsea’s key drivers of success. His marauding runs down the right channel provided Chelsea with the kind of muscle that few others in the league could match. Ivanovic would often function as an auxiliary right winger at times for the Blues.
While the loss of hair on his head hasn’t been so much of a distraction, his being out of position during games has.
The Serb’s penchant to do exactly that has now though been used against them. Jefferson Montero for Swansea and Aleksandr Kolarov for City, regularly bombed down that flank to exploit this very weakness and the move paid off rich dividends for their sides. Ivanovic was found out of position on numerous occasions, leaving the Chelsea backline in a spot of bother.
Ivanovic’s individual error, in fact, led to one of City’s goals at the weekend. City employed the brilliance of David Silva in combination with Kolarov to unhinge Chelsea on this particular channel.
Ivanovic’s marauding runs forward are not entirely new though. They were very much a part of his game in the last year and the years before that. So, why is it that this is suddenly a problem now?
Terry and Cahill fail to cope
The answer to that lies in the fact that Chelsea’s central defensive partnership is a lot creakier now. John Terry and Gary Cahill as a partnership prefer to stay back as opposed to maintaining a high line, as compared to some other defensive partnerships in the league. As a result, when Ivanovic does venture too far forward, there exists a bigger chasm between them, one that in the two games so far, they have found hard to bridge.
To go with that, Terry and Cahill are not the quickest and Chelsea’s captain is clearly not the same defender that he used to be. Mourinho’s decision to lynch him at half-time against City and insert Kurt Zouma instead is proof of that. It was the first time that Mourinho had ever substituted his captain ever since first arriving at Stamford Bridge more than a decade ago.
Clearly there are red alerts that Mourinho needs to sort out. The public pursuit of Everton’s young central defender John Stones seems ever more relevant in the light of the champions’ displays so far.
There could be quite a story developing yet here for Chelsea’s defence, for a long time, the ever dependable part of the side. It looks like being the department that could have a huge say in Chelsea’s quest for glory this season. Combined with the question marks that remain in the forward line, the Blues have struggled for lift off.
Pedro may have arrived from Barcelona to provide some more bite in attack, but the problems at the back will make for interesting viewing in the weeks to come.