Portuguese right-back Jose Bosingwa’s return to first-team action is something that Chelsea fans have been waiting a long time for. The defender had been out for a whole year with a knee injury picked up against Aston Villa.
Bosingwa came through unscathed following Chelsea’s reserve team victory over Liverpool two weeks ago and is pushing for a start in Chelsea’s next game which co-incidentally is against Aston Villa.
Since joining from Porto in 2008, Bosingwa had established himself as a premier attacking full-back. In his first season with the club, Bosingwa was a first-team regular under managers Luiz Felipe Scolari and Guus Hiddink making 48 appearances in all competitions while scoring twice.
Before his injury, Bosingwa had forged an impressive attacking tandem with Ashley Cole, his fellow full-back on the left hand side. As a relatively narrow team, Chelsea are heavily reliant upon the full-backs to create width to their play; something that both Cole and Bosingwa both excel in.
The two wide players in Chelsea’s attacking trio tend to drift infield with the ball, creating space for the attacking full-back to roam into. Ashley Cole has perfected this art down Chelsea’s left with Florent Malouda as they have wreaked havoc on opposition defences.
In Bosingwa’s absence, Branislav Ivanovic has stepped in at right-back and has done an outstanding job. While not as enterprising as his Portuguese teammate, Ivanovic has been a model of consistency in Chelsea’s back four as he helped Carlo Ancelotti’s men to a league and FA Cup double last season.
With Ivanovic’s more conservative tendencies, the greatest threat last season came down Chelsea’s left as Cole and Malouda routinely linked up to create chances for the attackers. Now with Bosingwa back in the fold, it could signal a more balanced attack.
If Ancelotti decides to play Bosingwa instead of Ivanovic, there is the prospect that Chelsea would have to rely less on the Cole/Malouda partnership to create chances as Bosingwa would be creating an equal attacking threat down the right flank as well as the left.
However, it will be difficult for Bosingwa to unseat Ivanovic in the Chelsea squad. As I have said previously, Ivanovic has been an excellent performer while Bosingwa was injured and Ancelotti will no doubt be aware that he is very much short of full match fitness, having played only two reserve games since returning to full training.
Chelsea has been plagued by injury all season so Bosingwa’s return is greatly welcome. Ancelotti is faced with a difficult task on who to start next weekend against Aston Villa but Bosingwa’s return is sure to boost Chelsea’s attacking options and make the squad even stronger.
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