Chelsea’s defence had suffered a lot from January’s defeat to Arsenal where the Gunners won 2-0. In February, Chelsea lost to Bournemouth 4-0, Manchester City 6-0 and also went out of the FA Cup courtesy of a 2-0 defeat to Manchester United in the fifth round tie at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea’s defence had been left exposed pretty often, but Blues boss Maurizio Sarri admitted he had to work on the team’s compactness, and it seems his methods have been paying off.
Chelsea are yet to concede a goal since the defeat to United, with Sarri’s side keeping three consecutive clean sheets in what was very difficult games.
Chelsea kept a clean sheet in the 3-0 win over Malmo, before playing a goalless draw with City in the Carabao Cup final which City won on penalties. Chelsea then defeated Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 at the Bridge on Wednesday as Spurs were unable to get even a shot on target in that game.
After 345 minutes without conceding a goal, Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek has admitted that the team has been working a lot in training on being compact, and it just seems to be paying off on the field of play.
He told the official Chelsea website: “We’ve been working a lot more on being solid as a team defensively,’ he revealed. ‘I think that showed in the last couple of games, obviously keeping City at bay and then the clean sheet against Tottenham. So we’re improving on that and I think we’ve got enough talent in the team going forward that we can create chances and score goals.
“The system hasn’t been changed. We’ve been doing what we’re doing, playing how we’ve been playing since the start of the season. We’re just picking our moments, when to press and when to sit off and be compact. We’ve been loads better at staying compact as a team and pressing as a team throughout the game, so that’s improved.
“We are making progress. These days can happen where it just doesn’t go right, that’s football. Consistency in football is the hardest thing. To keep playing at a high level week in, week out, three times a week is very difficult. Consistency helps you win titles, so this is the biggest thing for us. If we can keep these top performances up we can be a great team.”
Speaking ahead of the west London derby against Fulham, Loftus-Cheek chose not to focus on his opponents.
Fulham currently seat in the relegation zone and playing under their third manager of the season, with former Chelsea midfielder Scott Parker taking charge of his first match at Craven Cottage against his former club.
Loftus-Cheek went on: “Any team that’s in and around the relegation zone is going to be difficult to play, especially with them being at home and being a derby.
“We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing. We’ll analyse Fulham and how they’re set up defensively and offensively, so we’ll be ready for the game and have our game-plan.
“We won’t concentrate too much on what’s happening around Fulham, we just look at how they play and analyse how they play and look to do the best we can.”