Despite Chelsea extending their lead to the top of the table to eleven points by defeating Swansea City 3-1 yesterday afternoon, a pitfall in Antonio Conte’s side was as clear as could be.
The right-hand-side of the Blues’ defence is fast becoming an issue. When the ball is on the ground, both Victor Moses and Cesar Azpilicueta have scarcely put a foot wrong this campaign. There have been few better performing defenders in the Premier League this term than the Chelsea duo.
However, when an opponent lifts the ball into the penalty area – it’s a different story. Think back to Chelsea’s 2-0 defeat at White Hart Lane in January. Dele Alli found space at the back-post on two occasions to head home past Thibaut Courtois. Conte’s men were punished once more yesterday.
As Gylfi Sigurdsson swung the ball into the penalty area on the stroke of half-time, Fernando Llorente eased past Moses to find the back of the net with a thumping header. It’s easy to see why opposing sides are targeting this area. Both Azpilicueta and Moses stand at just 5ft 10.
Gone are the days when the Blues had Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic covering that area of the penalty area, and they are paying for their absence. It remains to be seen whether using Azpilicueta as a centre-back is a plausible option long-term for Conte.