The Serbian international has netted two goals in seven games so far this season, and has spent every game marauding up and down the right flank.
Despite arriving at Stamford Bridge as a central defender a number of years ago, Ivanovic has been converted into one of the best defensive full-backs in world football. He has often come under criticism for some of his attacking abilities - with his crossing of the ball an obvious weakness - but his goalscoring threat is second to none, and he shows an incessant desire to trouble the opposition at every opportunity.
Despite failing to register an assist this year, the 30-year-old has scored two goals, played 11 key passes, and completed eight successful dribbles in seven games. He played a wonderful pass to Cesc Fabregas in the opening game of the season which led to Andre Schurrle’s tidy finish, and, although the Blues neglected their defensive duties in the opening weeks, conceding three goals to Everton and twice to Swansea, they have now kept two Premier League clean sheets in a row, and Ivanovic told the Chelsea magazine that the ‘balance’ between defence and attack has finally been found.
“At the beginning of the season we have had a lot of space to go forward but it is important to keep the balance, because our first aim always has to be holding the defensive line, to keep the defensive four together,” the Serb revealed.
“Sometimes you can show the winger that you want to attack, that you know how to attack, so they have to focus on the defensive side of their game. This can help the team by taking their winger out of position, taking him so far away from your goal that they cannot hurt you.
“However, this is another thing that depends on the opponent and the situation of the game, so I’m happy to go forward when I can, but I’m still focused on the defensive things first.”
|Match||Conceded||Tackles Won||Clearances||Duels Won||Aerial Duels Won||Interceptions|
|Branislav Ivanovic||Everton vs Chelsea||3||2||2||5||1||4|
|Branislav Ivanovic||Chelsea vs Arsenal||0||6||7||16||8||4|
As can be seen when comparing the 5-3 victory over Everton and Sunday’s 2-0 victory over Arsenal, Ivanovic has taken on less of an attacking threat in recent weeks. The Blues were less offensive than the Gunners, and Ivanovic completed more than double the amount of nearly every defensive action, falling down on interceptions - only completing an equal tally of four.
Whilst the football displayed against Everton and Swansea was impressively offensive, the defensive performances left a lot to be desired. With the game against Arsenal still returning two goals, but also with a clean sheet, it appears as if Jose Mourinho has finally found the perfect balance between defence and attack.