Not Effective At All: Why Antonio Conte Should Drop This Chelsea Ace Immediately

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Exactly a year ago, Branislav Ivanovic was one of the surprising first-team regulars in all of the Premier League. He was going through one of the worst runs in his career, but José Mourinho continued to pick him with unhindered faith. This, of course, proved to be the wrong choice, as later Mourinho paid the price with his job. Ivanovic’s form certainly recovered in the second half of the season, but he did not seem worthy of the first-team spot. Antonio Conte did not seem to be interested in making Ivanovic the fall guy for last season’s poor form. The Serbian has been a first-team regular under the Italian too. But is it time to drop the Serbian after the 3-0 hammering against Arsenal?

In a game where a team takes quite a bit of hammering, there are players who will come under the spotlight for some horrendous performances. The case with Ivanovic, though, is different; the Serbian has been on a catastrophic run for quite a while. Gary Cahill made the obvious error of allowing Alexis Sanchez to score in the opening 15 minutes. Ivanovic, though, was one of the poorer players at the back.

Ivanovic had a pass accuracy of 80%, which may not seem bad under any circumstances. However, his compatriot at the other end of the pitch – Cesar Azpilicueta – had a whopping 89% pass accuracy. Even Cahill, who made the horrendous error, was better than Ivanovic with a figure of 82%.

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One of the few areas where he did well on the pitch was winning three aerial battles, which is a statistic that matches his opposition compatriot Nacho Monreal.

Until now, one of the big advantages of having Ivanovic at right back seemed to be the obvious threat the team had at set pieces. From the 2010-11 season to the 2014-15 campaign, Ivanovic was a major contributor of goals even when he was playing at the centre back. He had come up with a quite remarkable 28 goals in all competitions during this period. In the last two seasons, though, he has managed just two goals in all competitions. His inability to contribute much in attack coupled with little reassurance at the back means that there is no reason to having the 32-year-old in the starting line-up.

Age is also another factor which will play against the former Lokomotiv Moscow defender. Signed for £9 million in 2008, Ivanovic can reflect positively on his Chelsea career given that it has yielded aspects like the Champions League and Premier League medals. It is highly unlikely that Ivanovic may leave the club in January, but the immediate move by Antonio Conte may be bringing Azpilicueta back to right back.

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