After another dreadful performance from Chelsea's defensive unit not only on the wings but also centrally against Southampton in the Premier League, Chelsea fans' roars for changes in the line-up picked up even more momentum. Still, José Mourinho continues to back his starting fullbacks César Azpilicueta and Branislav Ivanovic, and explained why he isn't using last-minute transfer Baba Rahman over them on the pitch in the Premier League.
"[...] Because Baba Rahman arrived in the last day, because he doesn't know what is is to play in this kind of championship. He had no pre-season with us. He needs time to learn, he needs time to adapt."
"At the same time, every team expect Maccabi Tel-Aviv is a team of giants. And if you don't have a minimum of five tall players good in the air, you are dead in set-pieces."
"When I play Azpilicueta on the right and Baba Rahman on the left and I don't play Ivanovic, I have only three, not ever four [good players in the air]. So we have to think about all the details. And I think about all the details."
-José Mourinho; Source: London 24
Baba Rahman is listed at 1.79 m (5'10'') in height, while Ivanovic is 6 cm taller (1.85m, 6'1'') and a fair bit stronger and more powerful. However, despite the difference in height, Rahman wasn't that bad of a player in the air while playing in Germany, winning almost 67% of his aerial duels in the Bundesliga. Obviously, he would've gone up against different types of players than Ivanovic, so it's tough to compare based on just that one stat. It should be noted that despite the right back's and the rest of our defence's supposed prowess at headers and set pieces, we've not only conceded a fair few, we've also only scored just once — against Arsenal, appropriately enough. This, like most other phases of our play, has not gone to plan at all.
It's easy to read into these words as Mourinho never dropping 'untouchable' Ivanović, despite the manager already dropping just about every untouchable at least once so far (except maybe Fàbregas). But he clearly feels that Baba is not a viable option at the moment. That's not to say he won't be in the future; Mourinho didn't play Azpilicueta at first for very similar concerns.
Maybe if we had managed to complete Rahman's deal sooner, he could have had an entire pre-season to prove himself to Mourinho just like Kenedy did. For now, however, it seems that we will only get to see Baba in easy cup games.