With Chelsea’s important weekend fixture against Arsenal coming up, Antonio Conte will have to make some very significant decisions in terms of his tactics as well as his team selection. Any coach would be concerned with the way how Chelsea’s backline shipped in the goals against Swansea and Liverpool, let alone Conte, who puts a great emphasis on his team’s defending.
Chelsea have conceded 6 goals in their 5 League games already and not being able to keep clean sheets have put much pressure on the forward line as well. Latest reports have indicated that Conte is mulling the possibility of axing one of his defenders who has so far been singled out for the problems at the back. That player is Branislav Ivanovic.
Ivanovic was actually one of the most reliable and consistent defenders for the Chelsea team since his arrival from Lokomotiv Moscow for the better part of 7 years. However, last season turned out to be a disaster for him. Since the first match of 2015/16 season, where he was given a torrid time by Swansea winger Jefferson Montero, the Serbian has never looked like the player he was, continuing to make mistakes at the back and being found out in terms of positioning on a number of occasions as the team continued to suffer throughout the whole season.
This year hasn’t been any different and thus the right back has come in under a lot of criticism from the fans and experts as well.
Since taking over the Blues, Conte has spent some serious cash in order to get his defence sorted out. Spanish defender, Marcos Alonso, was signed in the summer as a cover for the fullback region and he gave us a glimpse of what he offers in the EFL Cup game against Leicester.
In the game, Alonso did play decently considering it was his first game for the club. While the 25-year old is no stranger to English football having previously spent time at Bolton Wanderers and Sunderland, he did make a couple of mistakes in terms of his passing, to be honest.
Defending wise he did decent enough and his forward runs did give Chelsea far more balance. Chelsea had a poor first half as Cahill and Azpilicueta, the latter was moved to right back as Alonso slotted in at the left, contributed heavily with their mistakes in the two goals scored by Okazaki in the first 45 minutes but improved after the restart.
Conte now has to make a big decision over who will feature against Arsenal for his team. Should he go with Ivanovic or Alonso? At the moment, it looks like Alonso does stand a better chance of featuring on Saturday.
Arka Tarun Mukherjee
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