A combination of a new attacking system and absence of key personnel has led to Chelsea's back four leaking goals. A loss at Juventus on Tuesday would put them in real danger of Champion's League elimination, so who should make up their defence for the fixture?
In the aftermath of Chelsea succumbing to a 2-1 win away at West Brom at the weekend much of the focus has been on the misfiring Fernando Torres, and who might be coming in to replace him in January. However Chelsea currently have greater problems at the back than they do in attack, having conceded 18 goals in their last 8 matches in all competitions.
The absence of John Terry for many of those matches has clearly had an effect, as has Ashley Cole's recent injury. When Terry was first banned for four games there was a confidence aruond the club that suggested he wouldn't be missed all that much. After all, Chelsea picked up the Champions League on the back of semi-final and final performances without Terry last season. However this Chelsea side is a very different unit, and the centre back pairing of Luiz and Cahill has looked uncomfortable without protection from Chelsea's highly attacking midfield.
On Tuesday Chelsea face Juventus in a game they must avoid defeat in. A loss in Turin would leave the possiblity of Juventus and Shakhtar both qualifying for the next round by drawing with each other in the last match. Whilst Juventus haven't been the force in Europe they have been in Serie A this year, their performance against Nordsjaelland bore more of the hallmarks of their domestic form, and Chelsea know themselves the threat Juventus carry going forward, after surrendering a 2-0 lead to draw at Stamford Bridge in the reverse fixture.
Chelsea need to tighten up on Tuesday, and I would argue that Branislav Ivanovic needs to come into the centre of defence to partner David Luiz, with Azpilicueta starting on the right. Luiz has made mistakes this year, but no more so than Gary Cahill, who perhaps gets an easier time from the press due to him:
a: being a more traditional type of defender
b: not having stupid hair
Luiz adds the ability to carry the ball out of defence to Chelsea's side, and assuming they maintain their attacking system for Tuesday's game, this ability is needed to ensure his side retains possession when getting the ball forward to the likes of Mata.
To my eye, Ivanovic looks as good as any defender in Chelsea's side, so moving him to the centre should add more solidity, and Azpilicueta has been good in his limited appearances at right back.
Whilst the focus this week might be on whether Fernando Torres starts against Juventus, Chelsea's priority should be to address their back four. If they concede two against Juventus again, they are likely to lose the match whoever they start up front, and their Champion's League defence could be over before Christmas.
Who would you pick in defence for tomorrow's fixture?
image: © Ben Sutherland