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."

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine