Chelsea’s Back Four – Strengths and Weaknesses

I am under the impression that we do have a strong defensive unit; however there are definite frailties in some of the individuals wit...

I am under the impression that we do have a strong defensive unit; however there are definite frailties in some of the individuals within said back four.

Roberto favours a back line of;

Ivanovic  -  Luiz  -  Terry  -  Cole

The best way to get a feel for the quality of this back four is to discuss their strengths and weaknesses individually, then see who would best compliment eachother’s game. With Terry's ban now in effect, i think now is the perfect time to discuss other possibilities and see what is out next strongest defence.

I will start with Branislav Ivanovic;


- He is very strong
- Good in the air, very useful as an extra prescence for defending and attacking set pieces
- Defensive minded right back, because obviously he is a centre back by trade
- Positionally sound, he is good at blocking off crosses and shots, he knows where to be


- Has a lack of pace
- He doesn’t provide ‘natural’ width to the play when attacking
- Because of his lack of pace he favours the early cross instead of beating a man and getting to the by-line, Torres is poor at attacking early crosses, he often gets muscled out, he is obviously no Drogba.

David Luiz


- Very pacey
- Good in the air
- Has good distribution from the back
- Always seems calm
- Excellent going forward


- He is extremely mistake prone, he will almost always gift the opposition an opportunity
- Seems to switch off every so often and forget he is a defender
- Far too casual at times, tries to dribble his way out of trouble when he should just clear the ball
- Too rash, he always tries to win the ball by nicking it in front of the opposition, which ends up in him going through the player and giving away a foul.
- Sometimes he honestly looks like he doesn’t know what he is doing (see Shaktar’s first goal)
- Has the tendency to try the extravagant 50 yard pass far too often and it ends up in us losing possession.

John Terry.


- Very strong
- Completely dominant in the air
- The chief organizer of the back four and the entire team in truth
- Good reader of the game
- Good at attacking and defending set pieces
- Blocking shots, making last ditch tackles, all aspects of defending really.


- So slow that he looks like he is running in treacle, can get caught out by a well timed through pass or ball over the top.
- The controversy that inevitably comes with him could affect him and or other players

Ashley Cole


- He is very quick
- Good reader of the game
- Excellent at blocking shots and making tackles
- Surprisingly good in the air for his size
- Blocking shots on the line seems to be his forte
- Strong attacking wise
- Very consistent


- No right foot, which would definitely help us at times. - When he is faced with the full back to beat, he often just turns inside and looks to pass, rather than using his pace to go past the full back.
- The controversy he brings to the table.


Gary Cahill


- He is quick
- Good in the air
- Excellent at making blocks – puts his body on the line.
- His finishing and attacking abilities are quite astounding at times


- Maybe a lack of experience
- Can be caught out of position on the odd occasion but usually very solid

Cesar Azpilicueta

A bit of an unknown quantity so far in the Chelsea Blue, I have only seen highlights of him from the Wolves game and his time at Marseilles.


- Very quick
- Good at attacking and does provide natural width in the attack


- His all around defending can be brought into question, that almost always comes with completely attack minded full backs. Better defending comes with experience
- Very lightweight

Ryan Bertrand


- Pacey
- Defensively sound
- Good attacking wise (check out his goal v Wolves in the Capital one cup)
- Enthusiastic and willing to play anywhere RDM wants him


- Lack of experience
- The fact that he has the best left back in the world in front of him!


With their strengths and weaknesses in mind, this would be my first choice of defence at this moment in time;

Ivanovic  -  Cahill  -  Terry  -  Cole

Cahill and Cole have the pace to make up for Ivanovic and Terry's lack of the same, Cahill is far less mistake prone than David Luiz and an all around better defender in my opinion so he would get the nod for me. However because of John Terry's imminent ban, this will not be able to be fielded in the immediate future.

A possible alternative to deal with Terry's suspension would be;

Azpilicueta  -  Ivanovic  -  Cahill  -  Cole

This would create more balance with Cahill and Ivanovic who are very defensive minded and Azpilicueta and Cole can provide width to the attack.

David Luiz for me is too rash to be a central defender, he needs to seriously work on his defending, i thought he would have improved after constant first team action at the top level, but it doesn't seem that way to be honest. I hope he proves me wrong, but i believe his future is either a bit further forward or out at right back where his mistake and tendancies to switch off will cause less harm, at the same time his attacking strengths can be utilized better in these positions. If he does improve his concentration and overall defending then he is a must at centre back for me because of his obvious strengths.

For the game against Manchester United at the Bridge, i have no doubt in my mind that the back four will consist of;

Ivanovic  -  Luiz  -  Cahill  -  Cole

I do agree with this though because a game against Manchester United is not the time to try out a new back 4. It is especially not the opportune time to give Cesar Azpilicueta his first start in the Premier League, that would be a baptism of fire for sure. Regardless I definitely feel the time to start exploring our options is drawing ever closer, although John Terry is our strongest option at present, he isn't going to be around forever and we do have capable replacements who need to be given a chance to prove their worth!

So Chelsea fans, what do you think?

What is our strongest back four?

Do you disagree with some strengths and or weaknesses of our players?

(I would be happy to add more in if you have other suggestions)

Leave your thoughts, i would love to hear them!

Article by Martin Smith

Follow me on Twitter @MartinSmithCFC


Post a Comment

  1. ivanovic luiz terry cole
    iva is strong and attacks pretty well, while azpi is so unproven idk. luiz & cahill is a tossup, but rdm obviously rates luiz higher. terry is obvious-captain, leader and chelsea hero. cole is another one of chelsea's best. terry & cole have been some of chelseas best over the years.i

  2. That David Luiz guy is a complete joke.but because they said love is blind,too many morons cannot see his weaknesses,i dont know what that guy is doing in our club. god save us. Him and Torress .hmmm.i fear for chelsea this season.pls RDM play Cahill with Terry,that David Luiz would cost you your job.




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