Singled out by a good portion of public opinion as the main source of everything rotten happening with Chelsea's defense, Branislav Ivanovic's absence as right-back for a month proved that our defensive woes lies beyond his struggles. He marked his return from injury with a win in Chelsea's game against Norwich City last Saturday, noting that he's quite happy to be back on the pitch:
"I am very happy to be back. I was a bit frustrated how things were going at first because I was not supposed to be out for a long time."
"But I had a great time with the medical staff, they helped me a lot and it's great to be playing again. Now I can help the team."
Chelsea are set to face a high-on-confidence Tottenham side at White Hart Lane for the Premier League after their match against Maccabi Tel Aviv, in a game that proved to be very hurtful for Chelsea fans last season. Ivanovic hopes to get a good result in Israel before having Chelsea diving into a rather difficult run of games until the end of the year:
"It is a good opportunity to win away from home before going into that difficult run. We have to improve away from home."
"It's always better to play in front of your fans, however the team show their strength by how they play away. The next away games are crucial for us in the League because we need results to get up the table."
When asked why Chelsea have been struggling with form as of late, the fullback pointed out that this is the result of the pressure that comes in defending a Premier League title from last season:
"This is the extra pressure that comes with being champions. From the start of this season, I noticed teams showing us even more respect, they were scared of us and they think more about how we are playing, what we are doing compared to other teams."
"This is the extra pressure that we have to deal with. How we play defensively is key. It's important to be together, to not concede because we will always get a chance to score due to the quality players we have."
"They can always create something, so we need to find the right balance between these two things when we are away. It is vital for us to do that at this stage of the season."
-Branislav Ivanovic; Source: The London Evening Standard
Chelsea seem to be on the right track again in their trials to find said balance between good defensive performance and good offensive outings. Hopefully today's match against Tel Aviv will be another step into this direction, since we'll certainly need it against Tottenham in the weekend.