For the past few years, the football has transformed from many old tactical strategies to new improvised ones. From traditional 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 . From simple passing to tiki taka. One of them is playing high line in defense. Though it’s not new to football but it has been adapted by many teams recently. European giants like Man City, Arsenal, Real Madrid etc are familiar to it.
Playing high line is as risky as playing with no goalkeeper. For past few years, we have seen this tactic being demolished by other teams. Arsenal 3-6 Man City, Man Utd 8-2 Arsenal, Netherlands 5-1 Spain are few examples.If we talk about it regarding chelsea, Carlo and Andre Villas-Boas did play the high line. Jose played it in Chelsea in his first spell, but he did in his 2nd spell, and when he tried to play it, he almost failed. Why? Let us talk about it.
Thing about high line is Center Backs have to be really careful and aware of the situation. During Andre Villas-Boas spell, Ivanovic and Luiz CB partnership was played. We conceded fewer goals and scored many. Jose’s Carvalho-Terry pair did a good job as well. Last season we didn’t try it even once. We were defensive in most of the matches and Terry-Cahil didn’t have to play the high line. This season we our CB playing little bit higher from their usual position including Azpilicueta and Ivanovic. The result was disappointing, and we were poor in defense. Burnley, Leicester and Everton all posed a threat on our goal.
One of the reason is Terry’s age. He is 34 now and don’t have that much pace left in him. He can read the game very well and stop any attack while he is grounded. On the other hand, Cahill has a poor judgment of the game. He is a type of a defender who is a beast inside the 17 yard box, but is vulnerable once he is outside it. He can tackle and head any ball, but his game reading is in doubt, and that’s what should be avoided while playing high line. CB has to be smarter than the striker and read the pass before the striker does. Azpilicueta and Ivanovic were seen out of position during the first three games. They both are one of the best one on one defenders in epl but once they are out of position Chelsea is in trouble.
I saw fans questioning Jose when we were linked to Miranda and Benatia. I think he was trying to adopt a new method in defense with the incoming of these rumoured transfers. Do we have a solution now? Yes. We can succeed it by benching Cahill and playing Ivanovic-Terry/Zouma cbs. Azpilicueta and Filipe Luis fullbacks. Ivanovic certainly faster than Cahill and has better game reading of the game, is better with high line and more comfortable.
It’s not very essential to play high line but once we strengthen it, we can pay more attention in our attack and be lethal in every aspect of the game.