Under Jose Mourinho, the Blues were renowned for having a ridiculously strong defence, although the emphasis on rearguard action often came at the cost of free-flowing football. When Phil Scolari became manager during the summer, and subsequently oversaw a strong start from his charges, the ‘experts’ were hailing a coach that had brought about an exciting new brand of football to Stamford Bridge. However, surely there are Chelsea fans now crying out for a return to ‘The Special One’s’ defensive ways.
Petr Cech is sounding pretty frustrated by his team’s inability to shut out anyone at the moment (with the exception of the non-prolific Middlesbrough). The Blues have failed to stop Southend (twice!), Ipswich and Stoke scoring against them in recent weeks, while a combined total of five goals conceded with no reply at Old Trafford and Anfield has resulted in Scolari under pressure. ESPN reports that the Chelsea goalie is stressing the need to keep things tighter.
“Whether it’s our concentration or not I don’t know but we need to sort it out,” said Cech. “At the start of the season we were getting a lot of clean sheets. Then in December we had a run where we didn’t.
“You can have a great game and still allow the opposition to score. That’s what we’re doing and it makes everything a lot more difficult.
“When you’re not conceding goals for so long, it gives you a massive boost to know one goal will get you three points.
“All we can do now is keep winning, so if Liverpool or United drop points we can close the gap. That is the only way for us now. It’s not in our hands, it’s in United’s.”
Indeed, Manchester United have become the new kings of the clean sheet, needing just one goal to beat the likes of Everton and Bolton (although they did manage three against Chelsea). Just what has gone wrong with the Blues defence? Many cite the absence of Michael Essien, while Claude Makalele also used to do an important job of protecting the back four.