After a disastrous start to the season, Jose Mourinho has tinkered with his defensive line-up in nearly every Premier League fixture this season. The results have been woeful, as the Blues have conceded twelve goals in five games.
Luckily, Chelsea face Maccabi Tel Aviv on Wednesday in their opening Champions League fixture at Stamford Bridge. Without disrespecting the champions of Israel, Chelsea should be viewing this fixture as a must win fixture that they clearly can win.
Mourinho has been switching centre-backs between Gary Cahill, John Terry and Kurt Zouma in a bid to resolve Chelsea’s leaky defence. So it remains a surprise that Branislav Ivanovic has failed to be made a scapegoat, as his performances have been the worst of the collective defensive group.
This is where £21 million summer signing Baba Rahman could potentially offer a resolution to Mourinho. The young Ghanaian formed part of lowly Augsburg’s resolute defence which catapulted the club into an unbelievable fifth position in the Bundesliga last season.
A review of Squawka’s 2014/15 season statistics reveal that Rahman played 20 key passes into attacking players last season and reaped the rewards with four assists. Similarly, Cesar Azpilicueta played 14 key passes and gathered three assists last season.
Ivanovic was outstanding last season and he managed to play 31 key passes to attacking players. The 31-year-old Serbian also grabbed five assists and four goals for himself from right-back. However, this is a different season and Ivanovic has only created two chances in five games which is below par within any team.
Mourinho should consider dropping Ivanovic altogether for the upcoming fixture against Tel Aviv to help blood in Rahman. Azpilicueta arrived at Chelsea as a natural right-back from Valencia and was gifted the opportunity to inherit Ashley Cole’s vacant left-back role. The reliable Spaniard snatched the chance and has hardly been left out of Chelsea’s squad since.
However, Azpilicueta should play right-back for the upcoming fixture against Tel Aviv as a seamless replacement to the struggling Ivanovic. Rahman will then inherit his natural position at left-back for a fixture in the Champions League on his home debut at the Bridge. Rahman and Azpilicueta are defensive-minded full-backs and it would be no surprise if Chelsea earn a clean sheet with this defensive arrangement.
Rahman should be thrown into the Champions League head first in a similar fashion to the way Hector Bellerin was by Arsene Wenger. The difference being that Rahman is going to be protected throughout the game by the quality of his teammates. If Mourinho takes the gamble and Chelsea earn a clean sheet, Rahman could be facing Bellerin face-to-face next week at the Bridge.