Branislav Ivanovic and his Chelsea compatriots suffered greatly at the hands of Swansea, as The Blues were defeated 2-0 by the Swans in the Capital one cup Semi-Final 1st leg. The loss inflicted on the Champions league holders, was universally blamed on the Serb of whom committed two atrocious errors resulting in a goal for Michael Laudrup’ team on both occasions.
However all is not lost for Rafa Benitez’ team. At the weekend Chelsea produced an outstanding display as they cruised to a 4-0 win against a solid Stoke team at the Britannia. This was the highest losing margin The Potters had suffered since their transition from Championship to Premier League club status.
If Chelsea can cough up another performance like that, cruising into a 4th Major final this season needn’t be a problem. In this article I will analyse certain methods, tactics and line ups The Blues should use to create a strict game plan capable of fulfilling it’s purpose at The Liberty Stadium.
As shown above, the game will take place at the Liberty. Not really a big deal for Rafa and his team as they have been victorious in their last 6 games on the road. In fact, the venue plays into Chelsea’s hands because as of the 15th of January they’ve lost their last two home games.
During Swansea’s trip to Goodison Park at the weekend, I picked up on a huge flaw in their defence. Not once did I see a white shirt win a header or arial ball against Everton’s attack. On a number of occasions The toffees caused havoc at the back for the swans by playing long balls forward, two of note being Anichebe forcing a clearence off the line and Jelavic scuppering a fantastic volleyed chance the dribbled past the post.
‘Chelsea can’t play long ball football can they?’ Were my exact thoughts on the basis that Mata, Oscar, Hazard and the rest that make up Chelsea’s severe attacking threat being short and far from physical. Although they can. When The Blues played Stoke at the weekend Frank Lampard played ball after ball from deep up to target man Demba Ba. On a number of occasions the Senegalese striker rampaged past the muscular Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth so I am sure if started he can do the same against a shaky Swansea back 4.
While remaining with the long ball tactic I shall move on to the defensive flaws in Chelsea’s game that need to be swiftly taken care of. When playing a midfield pairing of Ramires and Frank Lampard the London club are open to counter attacks down to the attacking minds of the fore mentioned duo. This is a great danger for Rafa’s boys because Swansea’s attacks often stem from counters. Due to Lampard and Ramires’ forward positions they are quite open to these counter attacks and seem to be a poor pairing when thinking defensively. If Chelsea remove Ramires from the defensive position they will be able to add another long ball specialist to the midfield David Luiz. If I was Benitez I would start this team…
Ivanovic. Cahill. Terry A.Cole
Ramires. Mata. Hazard
The reason Azpilicueta is not starting is simple. While fantastic going forward he is usually a weak link in Chelsea’s defence as proven at the Britannia on a number of occasions.
An easy way for The Blues to gain chances is by pressuring Swansea when they try to settle down. Everton tried this at the weekend and it nearly worked a few times. The incident most noteworthy was when Swans goalkeeper Vorm was force to make two tackles outside the box after a misplaced pass.
So, this was my tactical insight on what should be a fascinating match. I hope Rafa Benitez has picked up on some of these flaws in his and Swansea’s team; and that he can utilise them with optimum effect.