The Andy Gray Column: Champions League defeat exposes Chelsea’s shaky defence

Summary: ambassador Andy Gray was talking exclusively to South West Londoner…


I WASN’T surprised that Chelsea were carved open by Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday night because despite being top of the Premier League it’s something that has been on the cards all the season.

They’ve been very shaky defensively and have gotten away with it to a certain extent. I said it before the Tottenham game that if Gareth Bale and Moussa Dembele had played then there might well have been a different outcome to that game.

Those two players were a big loss for Tottenham and in the end Spurs weren’t able to truly trouble the Chelsea back four aside from a brief period at the start of the second half.

But Chelsea are definitely a side that you can get at. And if they play Oscar, Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Fernando Torres as a quartet like they normally do then you can really do some damage.

Those players aren’t great when they don’t have the ball. It makes Chelsea a little more open than they normally would be when those four are playing together.

They left Hazard out against Shakhtar and brought Frank Lampard back in, but then they had to bring Hazard on when Frank got injured, and the Ukrainian side started to run riot.

And it’s no coincidence to me that when those players are in the side they’re a bit lightweight.

Don’t get me wrong, those four individuals are hugely talented when in possession but they’ve got to learn the other side of the game.

I’m not saying go in and tackle everyone and throw your body around, but get yourself back in numbers and help your defence out by being in position.

But they’re not doing that yet. Roberto Di Matteo hasn’t quite married up the defensive art with the attacking art against the better teams.

Give them the ball and they’re wonderful at times but take it away from them and you can harm Chelsea at the moment.

It happened against Atletico Madrid in the Uefa Super Cup – Chelsea started the game very gung-ho and were ripped apart by the Spanish side.

Falcao scored a first-half hat-trick and could have had more. That would have been very worrying for Di Matteo and it looks like he still hasn’t got the balance right.

They face Manchester United at home on Sunday and that will certainly be another test for their defence with Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie in great form.

United haven’t won at Stamford Bridge in the league for ten years, but whether they can finally break that sequence I’m not sure because this is a tough one to call.

The result last year was 3-3 after an amazing comeback from three down by United, in a game that they looked totally out of.

It wouldn’t surprise me if it was a scoring draw again. I expect both teams to score simply because defensively neither of them are at their best and offensively they’ve both got some wonderful players.

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