Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho shed light on the tactical changes he has implemented in the Blues squad since his second homecoming at Stamford Bridge. One of the striking differences between Chelseaai??i??s playing style this season and the one before has been the high defensive line used by the self proclaimed ai???Special Oneai???. The Portuguese confirmed that he had in fact urged and made sure, ageing captain John Terry could also play in highly effective approach in the defensive line.

Over the last two seasons, Terry had been inclined to play deep to compensate for his lack of pace under Andre Villas Boas and then under Champions League winning manager Roberto Di Matteo. However the thirty-three year old fell out with interim manager Rafa Benitez, who preferred to partner David Luiz alongside Branislav Ivanovic or Gary Cahill in the heart of the defense. Terry also held a tight line, though sitting deep enough for Roy Hodgsonai??i??s England in the EURO 2012.

However, this season has seen a gradual change in Terryai??i??s reading of the game and the way he organizes himself at the back together with Gary Cahill, forging an immense partnership which is tough to cut open.

chelsea defensive tactics

Note: Chelsea’s attacking midfielders press on the opposition midfielders, who are on a look out for space in front of them, to pass the ball. However, since Chelsea defenders maintain a high back line, the opposition has little space to operate as they become more likely to loseAi??possession.

Both Terry and Cahill maintain a high line to squeeze up space, offering nothing or very little space for the opposition striker to exploit. This was visibly prominent in Chelseaai??i??s 6-0 thrashing of Arsenal at Stamford Bridge last weekend in Arsene Wengerai??i??s 1000th game in charge. The basic idea behind this philosophy is to take advantage of the oppositionai??i??s lack of sustained pressing on the centre backs.

While most teams now-a-days play the 4-2-3-1 the onus is on the number nine to drag the opposition centre backs out of position, for Ai??the attacking midfielders to exploit the space in the final third.Ai??However, if the attacking team goes passive (without pressing on the defenders), the central defenders in tandem can take the initiative to move up cohesively and protect space behind, having much time on the ball. Although the number nine can drag one of the defenders out of position, but with space cramped up for the wingers, the midfielders hardly have the space to beat the offside trap.

As Mourinho says, “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.” Chelsea fans will well appreciate how good Terry and Cahill have been in possession this season and also have helped the Blues by playing out from the back. Ai??Hence itai??i??s not a surprise that Chelsea have conceded just 23 goals in the League keeping 13 clean sheets in the process.

Adding to Chelseaai??i??s enviable performance this season, has been the willingness of the attacking triumvirate to track back defensively. Mourinho has instilled the defensive discipline in all of Oscar, Hazard and Willian, the attacking trio who work tirelessly and track back after they lose the ball to gain possession back again. While Andre Schrulle is perhaps the next best in the line apart from these three mentioned, it probably explains why Mourinho sold Juan Mata to Manchester United in the January transfer window.

Another key aspect to Chelseaai??i??s title credentials has been the off field influence that Mourinho has had in the squad. Not surprisingly the Portuguese has lambasted every decision that has gone against Chelsea this season. The Portuguese incessantly tries to gain favour from referees pressurizing them till the point to contempt.

Chelsea travel to Selhurst Park on the weekend to take on relegation threatened Crystal Palace, atop the Premier league standings, seeking their lost glory, paramount to which is claiming the famed Premier League trophy.

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