It would have been nice to hear Gary Lineker push Alan Hansen for more reasoning for his Match of the Day comment on Branislav Ivanovic being the best central defender at Chelsea.
It is certainly one of the more intriguing comments made by Hansen this season and one that has been largely overlooked, especially the line that he is now a better option than John Terry.
Chelsea are now 10/3 to win the Premier League after their draw at Swansea, but shuffling Ivanovic from full-back into a permanent central position is not the answer to boosting their title credentials.
Hansen was right in his assessment of Ivanovic’s performance at Swansea, solid from a positional standpoint, quick to anticipate danger in his sphere and solid in terms of his strength and aerial prowess.
The only thing his game really lacks is pace, but this is something that could also be argued of Terry, David Luiz and Gary Cahill.
However, since being brought to the club by Avram Grant as a central defender, Chelsea have a higher clean sheet percentage with Ivanovic at full-back.
Furthermore, it is also worth noting that Ivanovic’s games at centre half have tended to be against easier opposition, either in domestic cup competitions or at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League against bottom-half clubs.
The problem Ivanovic has is that his better qualities are similar to Terry, in terms of reading of the game, no-nonsense tackling and physicality.
But he lacks Terry’s leadership skills, organisation and arguably outright passion.
Playing them both together would struggle to work because of their similar nature, which is why Ivanovic is shunted right.
David Luiz may be culpable of the odd moment of madness, but his calmness in possession and better distribution are an asset, especially in the modern game.
Meanwhile, Cahill is more mobile than his competition and not as aggressive in his positioning, meaning that his covering nature is an asset, especially for a team prone to defending with quite a high line.
Therefore, he may not be Chelsea’s best defender, but most important if they are to remain title challengers for the remainder of the campaign, as he is the most versatile to play with any of the other three.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.