Chelsea could spend around £160million on attacking talent when they have the 12th worst defence in the Premier League. But there is a logical reason…
Chelsea’s defeat in the FA Cup final raised a number of issues about Frank Lampard’s side, mainly about their defence.
“The second goal was a really good example,” said Michael Cox on The Totally Football Show this week. “About 15 seconds before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored, Reece James was pressing Kieran Tierney about ten yards from the corner flag at the other end of the pitch. By the time Aubameyang scored he hadn’t come back into the picture.
“It wasn’t James’s fault at all, but the fact he was nowhere near a position to help out the defence, perhaps summed up why they’ve conceded so many goals this season.”
All of which emphasised a question that has been lingering for a few months, which James Horncastle asked:
“Pedro is moving on, Willian is probably moving on and they need to fill gaps in those positions, but do you not think Chelsea, who had the 12th-best defence in the Premier League this season, would not be better served spending Kai Havertz-style money on a centre-back?”
It’s a fair point. If Havertz arrives from Bayer Leverkusen for a fee in the region of the £80million that has been mentioned, they will have dropped something like £160million on him, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech.
On the up side, their attacking options – along with Christian Pulisic, Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham will be quite simply absurd. On the down side, the worst defence in the Premier League’s top ten and one that conceded the same as Brighton and more than Crystal Palace has been shunted further down the priority list than perhaps it should.
However, Rafa Honigstein attempted to explain:
“I completely agree, and that’s why when we first heard rumours about Chelsea’s interest in Havertz March or April, it seemed incongruous. But I think there’s a sense he’s too good a player to miss out on, in a market where Chelsea are one of the very few teams who can push those sort of buttons. These €100million, give or take, buttons.
“He might not be what they need now but he’s going to be a superstar if they do get him, so I can understand the attraction.”
However, spending huge sums of money on a defender or two isn’t the only way Lampard’s side could tighten up.
“But it’s not just to do with the personnel, it’s about the organisation and collective approach. You look at Arsenal’s back four: it doesn’t exactly strike you as the best in the Premier League either, but what Arteta has got the team to do is work harder without the ball, making them a lot more compact, and finding ways to mitigate these issues.
“Lampard has concentrated on the passing side, trying to make Chelsea into a more aggressive pressing side high up the pitch. It’s similar to Arteta, you might say, but perhaps with a little less pragmatism or patience.
“They just need to work harder on those issues, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a personnel issue.”
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