Ivanovic rediscovers his form
Chelsea’s 5-3 defeat at Tottenham was arguably the best game in the English Premier League to date, but it could have proved to be a damaging defeat.
Losing to a North London rival is one thing, but the manner in which Tottenham ruthlessly exposed Chelsea’s defensive vulnerabilities and uncharacteristic errors resulted in a day to forget for Jose Mourinho’s side.
Branislav Ivanovic was part of the Blues defence who simply had a bad day at the office, with the Serbian struggling to nullify the threat of Danny Rose and Nacer Chadli as both players caused havoc throughout down the left wing.
However, Ivanovic was back to his very best against Newcastle, standing up to the visitor’s bold attacking approach in the first half before setting up the all-important first goal for Oscar in their 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge.
A much improved performance and a clean sheet restored confidence at a vital time for Chelsea ahead of their tough trip to Swansea, with the league leaders currently slight favourites to take all three points from the Liberty Stadium.
Having the most lethal attacking force in the English Premier League has been instrumental in Chelsea’s march to the summit as they begun the season in ominous form.
However, Ivanovic is among many unsung heroes at the back who have performed wonderfully in keeping it tight and restricting opposition teams to limited chances; the same will be required at Swansea if the Blues have any hope of recording what could be an important victory in Wales.
It will be the first away fixture since the capitulation at White Hart Lane, so it remains to be seen whether Chelsea have learned their lessons and will approach the game with more caution to keep ahead of Manchester City at the top of the table.
The absence of top scorer Wilfried Bony, who is on African Cup of Nations duty with the Ivory Coast, will not stop Garry Monk’s side from playing the attacking, free-flowing football that has won many plaudits this season, with Swansea currently enjoying a good season in 9th place.
A recent blip in form will not make Chelsea’s trip to the Liberty Stadium any easier, particularly with Swansea faring much better on home soil than they often do on the road. It is for this reason that Mourinho will look to Ivanovic and the rest of the back four to remain solid throughout the full ninety minutes, particularly as the Blues have conceded all but three of their league goals away from Stamford Bridge.