Chelsea have made a horrendous start to the season and defender Branislav Ivanovic’s performance against Porto summed up everything that is wrong with the Premier League champions this season.
Ivanovic was simply awful against Porto where he made just 10% of his tackles in the Champions League (one out of ten), which took until the 90th min against Porto to finally come.
One of the tackles that he missed saw Brahimi dance past the 31-year-old in the 39th minute, leading to the first Porto goal.
What has to worry Jose Mourinho ahead of this weekend’s Southampton match is that the number of failed tackles by Ivanovic jas nearly doubled per 90 mins from last season, suggesting he is just not as efficient and commanding as was the case in previous years.
When you are slowing down and not winning tackles, you start to foul more and we are seeing that with the defender, who has committed 1.86 fouls per 90 mins, a big jump from last season’s 1.11, underlining how off the pace Ivanovic has been across the opening games.
He has looked a little desperate in his attempts to stop the likes of Montero, Brahimi and Bolasie skipping past him. Chelsea have actually conceded the most headed goals so far this season (5) and yet another set-piece goal against Porto heightens the vulnerability to dead-ball situations. If Ivanovic keeps fouling then this could cost the champions even more in the future.
It is not just at the defensive end of the pitch that Ivanovic is struggling. The Serbian defender could always be counted o to score from a corner or create a scoring chance with a great cross. Not this season. Against Porto, Ivanovic put a great chance from a corner wide of the target, the kind of opportunity he has buried in the past.
In the Premier League last season he created nearly one chance per 90 mins for his team-mates. This year he is creating 0.16 chances per 90 mins. He completed one out five crosses against Newcastle and found a Blue shirt with none of his attempted crosses against Porto.
It appears the ever so reliable Ivanovic is becoming increasingly vulnerable and unreliable. It may just be down to form and is because Chelsea have started poorly, but as they say in football you are only as good as your last game and, to be honest, Ivanovic’s last seven have been pretty poor. With Southampton and pacy winger Sadio Mane coming to Stamford Bridge this weekend, it is time for Jose Mourinho to take Ivanovic out of the firing line.