Saturday, June 23, 2018

Antonio Conte looking at defensive options at Chelsea

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte will concerned by his sides recent defensive displays

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte will be concerned by his side’s recent defensive displays

Chelsea suffered a 3-0 defeat at London rivals Arsenal on Saturday evening. In truth, it was more of a first half hammering than anything else.

The defeat showed just how much work Blues boss Antonio Conte has to do to put right the Blues ills.

In truth, it was more of a first half hammering than anything else. The defeat showed just how much work Blues boss Antonio Conte has to do to put right the Blues ills.

I have to give credit to Arsenal, as most teams would have struggled to cope with the Gunners on that sort of form. However, such a defeat will be considered unacceptable by Chelsea fans.

An ageing backline

Chelsea does have an ageing backline in the likes of Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic and John Terry. The latter missed out against Arsenal, but would his presence have had an effect on the Arsenal result? I believe it probably would have done.

Terry is a leader but has been written off more times than a blind stuntman. However, he keeps coming back and producing decent performances. He cannot go on for forever, though and the Blues will have a major problem replacing the former England captain.

The signing of mercurial sideshow bob, I mean David Luiz is looking like more and more of a mistake by the game. The Brazilian international is a liability in central defence and is himself 29, so is unlikely to mature with age. He is definitely not a fine wine in that sense.

The one shining light that could help Conte until January is the fact that both Terry and promising youngster Kurt Zouma are both nearing a return from injuries. That could be terrible news for Cahill and Luiz.

Zouma is by no means the finished article. He does though look like he possesses the attributes to become a very good Premier League centre-back in the future. If he can learn things on the field from Terry, but not so much off the field, the Blues could have a very good young defender.

Cahill has never convinced me as a top Premier League centre-back. The former-Bolton player always looks better when Terry plays alongside him, to guide him and tell him what to do. If Terry’s not there he struggles to perform.

Conte is looking at the January sales

According to the Independent, Chelsea boss Conte has been doing some window shopping in the last week. The newspapers website suggests that Juventus centre-back Leonardo Bonucci, Middlesbrough’s Ben Gibson and Burnley Michael Keane are all players the Blues are monitoring.

Bonucci is no doubt a very solid centre-back and is arguably one of the best in the world in his position. Conte also knows all about him from their days together at Juventus and the Italian national side.

The other players mentioned are interesting. Michael Keane was linked with summer moves to Leicester and Everton, but stayed at Turf Moor. At 23-years-old the former-Manchester United youngster looks to be maturing into a very solid Premier League centre-back.

The Clarets are one of the favourites to be relegated this season. If the team from Lancashire does go down this season you can virtually guarantee that Keane will be staying in the top-flight.

Gibson is also just 23 and has impressed for his hometown team Middlesbrough this season. Last season Gibson was one of his team’s star performers, as the north east side won promotion to the top-flight.

Chelsea would be a step up for both players from their current clubs. However, at the moment Chelsea fans will be thinking that the pair could do no worse than Cahill and Luiz.

Work to do to mount a title challenge

I was actually quite optimistic about Chelsea’s title hopes when Conte arrived at the club. However, the last few Blues games have confirmed that the side from south west London are not ready to challenge for the title this season.

The fact that the Blues are now the sixth favourites at odds of 25/1 to win the Premier League title says a lot about their current situation.

Conte will now realise that a lot of the problems the Blues had last year are still there. If the Italian boss is to turn the Blues into title challengers then he will have to correct the problems in his defence. At the moment it looks like that could take a while.

Can Chelsea mount a title challenge with their current defence?


David Nugent

David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.



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