Following David Luiz’s move from Benfica, Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti has indicated that John Terry’s place in the starting lineup is no longer guaranteed. Ancelotti will hand Luiz his first start in tonight’s derby against Fulham and has confirmed that his arrival means that all defenders will be rotated in the coming months in order to keep Chelsea’s back four fresh.
Although Chelsea have conceded the least amount of goals in the Premier League, their defence has looked more vulnerable than it has done for years. The team have already suffered seven defeats which is their worst toll since Claudio Ranieri’s last campaign as manger. However the addition of Luiz means that Chelsea have more defensive options to work with especially when you consider that the Brazilian can play at both centre back and full back. Although managers don’t normally like to change their defence around too much, Ancelotti sees his new arrival as the perfect opportunity to start a new phase of rotating the defenders at the West London club.
The Italian said, ‘With David Luiz we can have more rotation with our players. In the back four now we have a lot of opportunity to choose a player to give someone a rest and to maintain every player fit for the rest of the season.” However this decision means that Chelsea captain John Terry will face spells out of the starting line-up. For a player who has almost been guaranteed a starting place ever since Jose Mourinho made him captain in 2004, Ancelotti’s decision may come as a bit of a surprise. For almost six seasons, Terry has expected to play when fit but now he will have to contend with the likes of Luiz, Branislav Ivanovic and Alex for the centre back position.
However, Ancelotti expects Terry and others to rise to their new challenge and believes that it’s a positive factor to have players competing for places in the starting line-up. The Chelsea manager said, ‘Everyone knows that in the top teams there is competition for places, that is normal. It is good motivation for everyone.” However it will be interesting to see if his decision will pay off. Normally a central defensive partnership is at its best when they have played together week in week out. Just look at John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho; their defensive partnership was hailed as a major factor behind Chelsea’s successive Premier League titles in 2005 and 2006. Therefore constantly rotating the defenders is a big gamble.
However with Jose Boswinga picking up a knock in the week while on international duty with Portugal and Alex still recovering from knee surgery, the phase of rotation will have to wait.