Premier League season 2013-2014 belonged to Seamus Coleman. The Irishman was in the limelight from the first week to the last and the way he overshadowed his team-mate Leighton Baines, who was expected to star for Everton, was just incredible. Not only did Coleman rise above Baines’ level but he also was a class apart from the right backs of other teams.
Well, after seeing Branislav Ivanovic in the first four games of this season, I think the Serb will take over from Coleman this time.
Extra attacking option
Ivanovic provides Jose Mourinho with an extra attacking option. He is capable of providing the width on the right flank. This helps Andre Schurrle (or the right-winger) in cutting inside and channeling the pressure through the middle.
Schurrle’s height is 183 cm and Diego Costa’s is 188 cm. The presence of these two inside the opposition’s 18 yard box prompts Ivanovic to cross the ball more often.
As per my observations, after Chelsea attain a lead of 2 or more goals, Cesc Fabregas decides to stay near the centre circle and holds up the ball very well to facilitate the forward runs of the wing backs. And this is exactly when Ivanovic overlaps the right-winger and moves into the opposition box.
Observe the attacking movement of Chelsea players – This is a 4-3-3 formation consisting of a midfield triangle of Fabregas, Nemanja Matic and Ramires. First Fabregas makes a move towards the heart of the attacking midfield position. Oscar then joins to create an overload. Sensing that the opposition will be focussing on negating the threats posed by these two, Eden Hazard makes a run into the box. A cross ball from Hazard can be easily collected by Ivanovic in an advanced position (run 3). Overloading the opposition’s defensive midfielder region, Hazard’s menacing run into the box and sudden switching of play from left to right is enough to dismantle the opposition’s defensive setup.
Chelsea’s poor defensive record in PL this season and Matic’s recent woes
Chelsea have conceded 5 times, nearly half of what they scored, in the last two PL matches. This is really a matter of concern for Mourinho, under whom Chelsea have been defensively strong.
The finger can be directly pointed as Ivanovic. Like Coleman, Ivanovic sometimes jeopardises his team’s defence by getting involved in the attack. Against Everton, Willian had to drop very deep to contain Mirallas and Baines in Ivanovic’s absence.
Nemanja Matic is not the same player he was 6 months ago. He, at times, looks unsettled in the centre of the pitch. The forward runs of Ivanovic pushes Matic deeper, forcing him between John Terry and Gary Cahill.
Against Everton, Matic’s primary duty was to mark Steven Naismith. But Matic, who should have stepped into the space between the centre backs in Ivanovic’s absence, decided to follow the trails of the Scot.
When overloaded by opposition’s players, Matic’s physique, even though 194cm tall, comes to no help. Matic was unable to check Mirallas’ runs when he played more centrally. Yesterday Befetimbi Gomis dropped deep to join Gylfi Sigurdsson and overloaded Matic, which was not expected by Chelsea. It resulted in Swansea’s domination in the first 20 odd minutes.
So it’s best in Chelsea’s and Matic’s interests if Ivanovic restricts his forward runs.
In the beginning I told that “Ivanovic is the successor to Coleman’s throne” and I stand firm on my statement. Coleman scored a lot of goals and earned plaudits last season. But defensively he was not that great. Ivanovic needs to keep this in mind – Felipe Luis is in the offing to make his full debut in Chelsea’s colours. Any defensive errors from Ivanovic will force Jose to pick Cesar Azpilicueta ahead of the Serb. Once you are an outcast in Jose’s eyes it will be very tough to make a return. Ivanovic has Iker Casillas as an example.