It is a long-held notion that John Terry is exposed very easily when used in a defence with a high line. Andre Villas-Boas was the last man to try this out and with disastrous consequences. Strangely, Jose Mourinho has been able to adopt this strategy and still get the best out of Terry. Terry has formed an impeccable partnership with Gary Cahill and the duo have ensured that Chelsea have the meanest record in the Premier league.
The blues have conceded just 23 goals in 31 league matches. Mourinho has explained that the key to playing a high defence rests with the midfielders. He said:
“The point is, if the attacking players press, the defensive line is more comfortable and the defensive line is not afraid to step up a few metres.
“If the attacking players don’t press and the opponents take the initiative and can have time on the ball, every defensive line’s tendency is to protect the space behind. It’s a collective idea.
“John knows that if the team presses, it does work. So it’s more about the defenders looking at what’s in front of them.
“If you have a passive team in front of you, the tendency is to occupy spaces.
“When you have players who attack midfielders, reduce spaces, you close the distance between lines and take the defensive line from the edge of the box.
“But you have to do it right. In the game at West Brom, when we drew, look at the last 10-15 minutes.
“Why was my team so inside the box or on the edge of the box? Because we stopped pressing. So the normal tendency was to retreat.
“This is a clear example of the distance between the lines. If you press, everybody’s comfortable to take the team from the defensive block.”
This is a fascinating insight into Chelsea’s tactics. However, it must be remembered that Chelsea did not have the best record defensively prior to January. Matches like the 4-3 win over Sunderland and the 3-2 defeat against Stoke City were too frequent for Mourinho’s liking. The Portuguese has now transformed Chelsea into the favourites amongst the Premier League betting community.
He has done that by virtue of subtle changes like one of the fullbacks being cautious in attack have also been influential in this regard.
Even against Tottenham in the 4-0 win, Chelsea’s midfielders started pressing higher after the arrival of Oscar at half-time. This was not because Frank Lampard, who he replaced, was not good to do this job, but it was simply because Oscar plays in a much higher position than Lampard. This ultimately proved to be the magic that brought the opening goal.
Terry’s future is still in doubt with the club yet to offer him a new contract. He just has a few months left on his deal.
Quotes Source – Mirror