Chelsea supporters have heard all of this before from opposing coaches and rival fans.
Be it the old cries of Arsene Wenger bemoaning the style of Jose Mourinho’s dominant Blues that would regularly swat aside the Gunners in emphatic fashion, or the calls of “boring” towards the club’s title-winning run under Antonio Conte.
Now we have a new face regurgitating an old idea in Mauricio Pochettino, who in a frustrated response to critical questions towards the lack of defensive structure of his current Paris Saint-Germain side opted to take aim at the European champions.
“Chelsea have a defensive team, they play in transition and on the counter,” Pochettino said on Friday.
“We have signed two attacking full-backs, [Achraf] Hakimi and Nuno Mendes. The club has the ambition of playing attacking football, we are going to have to find the defensive balance that allows us to control the ball well to be able to attack well.
“It is true, we are conceding a high volume of shots, but that is one of the characteristics of attacking teams, to have full-backs that bomb forward and get into the opposition box.”
It would be a simplistic retort to claim Pochettino’s point is completely inaccurate or leads us to a binary discussion over classifying teams as “defensive” or “attacking” and there is not a clear balance between both.
That train of thought, however, would completely divert attention away from why the former Tottenham boss is likely taking aim at Chelsea right now.
It seems Pochettino is beginning to feel the heat in the French capital.
And even with PSG’s clear lead at the top of Ligue 1, the unconvincing start to their Champions League group – dropping points to Club Brugge and RB Leipzig – has cast doubt over the French giants’ ability to win Europe’s biggest domestic prize in May.
PSG’s eye-watering summer transfer window which saw the respective arrivals of Lionel Messi, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Hakimi, Georginio Wijnaldum and Sergio Ramos has increased the scrutiny on Pochettino, and his inability to structure a defence full of superstars vindicates the growing concern over his tenure.
The idea that being good defensively is something to criticise is one of the bizarre phenomenons of modern football. That being highly proficient in preventing your opponent from scoring is not one of the key parts of succeeding in this sport.
And what you usually find when coaches lament rivals for being “too defensive” is that they have their own inadequacies in defence.
Pochettino’s idea to focus on his full-backs is intriguing but is likely the thing that demeans his point the most when referring to the way Hakimi and Nuno Mendes are a vital part of the way PSG create.
Because anyone who watches Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea will know how vital the two wing-backs, Ben Chilwell and Reece James, are to the Blues’ attacking build-up.
James is Tuchel’s top goalscorer so far this season, whilst Chilwell has three strikes to his name. The pair are also the two highest-scoring defenders in the Premier League in 2021/22.
You add Antonio Rudiger’s header away to Leicester on Saturday and five of Chelsea’s last six Premier League away goals have been scored by defenders.
If you look at the two sides’ attacking output as a whole then you’ll see there’s even less weight to Pochettino’s claim – Chelsea have created 194 chances this season compared to PSG’s 158.
One look at Chelsea’s defensive record this season when compared to the French side’s – PSG have conceded 19 goals in all competitions compared to Chelsea’s eight – may suggest Chelsea aren’t an attacking team, though their goal output says otherwise.
Pochettino should spend more time trying to train his famous front three to work for the good of the team when out of possession, rather than throwing idiotic criticism Chelsea’s way.
What are your thoughts on Pochettino’s quotes? Follow our CareFree Chelsea writer Daniel Childs on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts in the comments section.
Source by Football London