Ancelotti has four options for Ivanovic’s defensive partner
Carlo Ancelotti faces a dilemma on who to pair with Branislav Ivanovic at the heart of his defence if he does not want to see Chelsea slip off the top of the Premier League standings.
Chelsea have seen their lead at the head of the table trimmed from five to two points and things are liable to get tougher in the coming weeks as they face a spell without first-choice central defensive pair John Terry and Alex.
Alex is expected to miss around two months of action because of an injured knee, while it is unknown the extent of Terry’s nerve problem in his right leg and he could also be out for months rather than weeks.
Ivanovic is now certain to shuffle across from right back to fill one of the two slots, but Ancelotti has four realistic options open to him on what to do about the other vacancy if Chelsea’s odds to win the Premier League are to remain at 8/11.
Paulo Ferreira filled in for the defeat to Sunderland, but the fact that the team has conceded six goals in his last two games in this position, instead of his more familiar right back role, does not inspire great confidence.
Although currently in the middle of a three-game ban, Michael Essien’s versatility could be called upon and he has proved in the past the ability to do a job in defence.
However, doing this would restrict Chelsea of Essien’s darting midfield runs and the positive impact he has on the game from this position.
Alternatively, young Dutchman Jeffrey Bruma could be the answer, despite his one Premier League appearance so far being an 18-minute cameo against Blackpool when the three points were already safe.
The other option is to try to tempt a defender to Stamford Bridge on an emergency loan.
Ancelotti may give a hint on his future plans when Chelsea travel to Birmingham for their next outing in the Premier League.
Chelsea’s betting odds to beat Birmingham are 8/13 with the hosts 9/2 to take the three points. See the full Birmingham vs Chelsea betting odds market.