AVB claims 'radical' move has Chelsea back on track

Rebalanced side host Fulham having found way in 'magnificent' show at Spurs, says manager

Although Chelsea start today's home game with Fulham 11 points from the top of the Premier League table, manager Andre Villas-Boas believes there has been a "radical change" in how they play, pointing to their performance at Tottenham on Thursday night. Chelsea drew 1-1 at White Hart Lane, keeping them two points behind their London rivals, a performance which he described as an "honour and a privilege" to watch. Chelsea, he believes, have now "found their route".

Villas-Boas's striking optimism is based on the theory that he has found the right tactical balance at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea started the season playing ambitiously high up the pitch, but have moved to a more conventional approach recently, and have Didier Drogba fit again. The result, for Villas-Boas, is "extremely gratifying".

"Now that we have found our route – and at Spurs we played it to an extent that was massive – it was an honour and a privilege to see this team play football," Villas-Boas said of his recalibrated side. "For me it's all good signs. Irrespective of what the result was, I think this is a radical change in the way Chelsea play and I think it was fantastic to see that we could do that and have the ability to play this football."

That combination of the traditional Chelsea virtues of solidity and control with more imaginative attacking play is what pleased the manager the most. "We showed extreme levels of resilience and discipline without dropping our level of performance. And when we had the chance we played good football," Villas-Boas said. "For us to go out like we did in the second half and play the magnificent football we played, is something extremely gratifying."

Chelsea's form has improved this month: they are unbeaten in five League games, and reached the Champions League last 16. This despite the controversy surrounding John Terry's racism charge – it was revealed on Saturday that the club turned down a request from the players to wear t-shirts, à la Luis Suarez at Liverpool, in support of their captain before Thursday's draw with Spurs. Villas-Boas believes, though, that even their autumn results – when they lost high-profile home games to Arsenal and twice to Liverpool – resulted from "the events of the games", which concealed good performances.

"Our performances were good. I can never say that our performances against Arsenal and Liverpool were bad ones. They were good ones but the events of the games took us to defeats rather than wins," Villas-Boas said. "We went through good consistency at the beginning, when nobody gave us praise for the Liverpool performance or the Arsenal performance because everybody went to the results straightaway and defeats at home. But the performances were good."

With 11 points between Chelsea and the leaders Manchester City, Villas-Boas conceded that his team "threaten from a distance", but believes that, viewed objectively, Chelsea's record is close to being title-worthy. "If you look at the table, it's a record-breaking Manchester City that is making the difference," he said. "If you look at the Premier League we are not far from championship-winning numbers in terms of past seasons."

To close the gap, Villas-Boas knows the importance of two more League wins this year. "But it also depends what we do in the other Christmas fixtures," he said. "If we get the six points from the home games against Fulham and Villa, I think it will be an extremely good December."

Christmas football is difficult, and Villas-Boas suggested he may make changes for this lunchtime's SW6 derby at Stamford Bridge. "Of course, tiredness and time will play a part," he acknowledged. "I think we have enough time to recover but it is the festive period and it is important for us not to be surprised, to freshen ourselves a little bit and to provoke an extremely difficult challenge to Fulham, which is a Fulham who come to Stamford Bridge wanting to test us and take something away."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin