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Our Defense


Scott Harris
Eton Blue at the Chelsea Megastore

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Why do you think we have struggled to keep clean sheets this season ? those defenders are very good but why is it that we have conceded sooooooooo many goals ?

Is it the way they are set up ?

Is it a lack of concentration ? ( Bosingwa F.A Cup final being an example )

Or are they simply not good enough ?

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A combination of things.

Injuries haven't helped, AVB's high line didn't help, playing Mata on the wing didn't help, some dodgy individual mistakes didn't help, fatigue didn't help...

The most important thing for me is that the starting defensive talent is good. Ivanovic-Luiz-Terry-Cole is a great back 4. Cahill was a great addition and Bertrand has looked decent when he's actually gotten a chance to play. Bosingwa is...Bosingwa. Improving the depth is a hell of a lot easier than finding another starter. We should definitely improve next year as most of the mistakes made won't be repeated. Injuries are, of course, impossible to predict. A bit more depth wouldn't hurt.

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Defending is not only done by defenders.

We have had a few problems with players adapting to a new manager's ideas wanting our whole team to close down far more aggressively than they are used to. If this isn't done properly it leaves lots of gaps in the side which are easy to exploit. This was one of our main problems under AVB along with the struggling to decide whether we'll play a high line or not.

We've also had problems with individual mistakes but really beyond that I wouldn't have said we were particularly bad at the back... in fact if you look at a few more recent games we've been back to where we're expected to be. Liverpool in the league excluded.

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Easy one discussed many times, AVB's high line our defense has never been quick enough for that

Drop back a bit add Cahill problem was solved, problem being apparently that is not playing the game properly so we didn't deserve to win anything

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We have conceded far to many goals after 75 minutes, even with RDM as a coach (no, this is not a RDM diss). That's only the concentration to blame. As for the other goals; lack of pressure up front, soft midfield, high defensive line and crappy motivation needs to be blamed. Don't forget that Terry has been a lot injured and he is the leader. Luckily we got Cahill now and Luiz has stepped up circa 50 notches. And also, Cech hasn't been THAT great all season. Hopefully he will continue his improvement next season and become the undisputed best goalkeeper in the world again.

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Easy one discussed many times, AVB's high line our defense has never been quick enough for that

Drop back a bit add Cahill problem was solved, problem being apparently that is not playing the game properly so we didn't deserve to win anything

Yes that was the first problem , but once RDM arrived nothing really changed , yeah the high line set up was removed but we were still shipping MANY goals.

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We have conceded far to many goals after 75 minutes, even with RDM as a coach (no, this is not a RDM diss). That's only the concentration to blame. As for the other goals; lack of pressure up front, soft midfield, high defensive line and crappy motivation needs to be blamed. Don't forget that Terry has been a lot injured and he is the leader. Luckily we got Cahill now and Luiz has stepped up circa 50 notches. And also, Cech hasn't been THAT great all season. Hopefully he will continue his improvement next season and become the undisputed best goalkeeper in the world again.

That is very true , i think we have conceded 22 goals in the last 15 minutes this season :ohmy: that is pretty poor.

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Poor decisions by defenders and the high line cost us early in the season. But fitness and concentration late in games cost us all

Arsenal 49 Conceded (9 Last 15)

Tottenham 41 Conceded (7 Last 15)

Newcastle 51 Conceded (10 Last 15)

Chelsea 46 Conceded (20 Last 15)

Everton 40 Conceded (7 Last 15)

Liverpool 40 Conceded (9 Last 15)

Edited by TomW
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Personally I do think that our "park the bus"-strategy can be extremely contra-productive at times. It worked when we had a proper tank up front who can hold onto the ball, our midfield had an average match weight of 85 kilos, our defense was the worlds best and the keeper was outstanding 60 games a season, but we have neither anymore (still think Cech can become the best regularly again though). There are times where I just have wanted to smash the TV because we drop every player in our own box with 20 minutes left to play, only leading 1-0. We have the quality to kill games (Fulham is the worst example), so let's do it. Well, next season then...

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Poor decisions by defenders and the high line cost us early in the season. But fitness and concentration late in games cost us all

Arsenal 49 Conceded (9 Last 15)

Tottenham 41 Conceded (7 Last 15)

Newcastle 51 Conceded (10 Last 15)

Chelsea 46 Conceded (20 Last 15)

Everton 40 Conceded (7 Last 15)

Liverpool 40 Conceded (9 Last 15)

Hmmm that at least makes the injuries and fatigue argument better. Hopefully with a healthy squad and a little more depth this area can be solved. This defensive problem has been something I've been struggling to define myself.

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The high line really screwed us over and then there were quite a few individual mistakes.

We have the quality. Even with Bosingwa we have a darn good group of defenders. In fact, we don't even have to play him.

A line of Ivan - JT - Cahill/Luiz - Cole oozes quality. Each of them are capable of playing at a very high level, even if they all (especially Luiz) make mistakes sometimes.

The main problem therefore is probably down to tactics. Compare the defensive line I just wrote with the ones we could see when Mourinho was here and we conceded hardly any goals at all. Not that big a difference really.

Therefore I think that with perhaps one new addition to the defence and a manager who know how to make our defence work we can become a lot secure at the back next season.

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The infamous "high line" is nothing but a scapegoat propagated by lazy media pundits. It then became a buzz word that fans latched on to, an entity that we could blame someone other than the players and manager for.

A simple solution to find the truth is to watch our games under Ancelotti, particularly our dream run in 2009/10. The Christmas tree formation that sparked that run made great use of a high defensive line, with Terry's incisive passing being crucial in getting the ball to our in-form attack. Not only did pundits and commentators pick up on that defensive change, they also praised the attacking impetus that the high line afforded.

Fast forward two years and the same tactic is derided as a liability. While the defense remained relatively unchanged, the biggest change was the lack of desire in the midfield. The midfield was never content to marry the high defensive line with the necessary energy and pressing in midfield. Common sense, rather than tactical nous, is enough to realise that if you leave a big gap between defenders and goal, you cannot give the opposition all the time in the world to play the ball in behind the defense. Bizarrely, that was most obviously demonstrated by Arsenal's 5-3 snatch-and-grab earlier this season, where 4 of 5 goals came because Arsenal's midfielders had an age to simply pump the ball direct to pacy attacking players to chase in the gap between defenders and goal.

The reason the high line worked under Ancelotti is because we had in-form attacking players such as Drogba, Anelka, Malouda and Lampard. They kept possession but crucially, we often scored early goals, creating momentum and putting ourselves on the front foot. Crucially, we also scored multiple times, such was the form of our forward players that there were games where we would score 6 goals from 20 odd shots, a great finishing percentage. (In contrast, "attacking" teams such as Barcelona or Man United frequently have 20 shots and only finish one or two chances!)

In 2006 even Mourinho pointed out that the next logical step in the team was to build on the solid defense and turn 1-0 leads into 2-0 or 3-0. He recognised long ago that one of the key flaws in our set up was that despite an obdurate defense, the law of averages dictated that eventually if a team had enough chances they would nick a result. Inconsequential in the low-frequency setting of a Cup tournament, but over the course of season it takes its toll and manifests itself as "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory" against the lesser clubs.

Our defenders are very good (Bosingwa aside). The simple fact is we don't really have a plan to relieve them of pressure. Buying new, creative, attacking players isn't going to help if we don't change the system of play so that we focus more on getting them on the ball. The same perseverance we have seen in our defense the last few weeks, we need to see in our attack, probing, dominating, always proactive and never reactive.

Fortunately we have a manager who knows the value of attacking football and proved it with a much lesser club.

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