Football

Baba Rahman: why the full-back can have a big impact at Chelsea this season

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In the wake of Chelsea's humiliating 3-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester City on Sunday, some positive news has emerged from Stamford Bridge - a new signing.

No, not the attacking midfielder that fans and pundits having been crying out for. Nor was it a defensive midfielder, the need for which was seemingly highlighted by Cesc Fabregas' largely lacklustre attempts at shielding his vulnerable back four.

The new arrival was the highly-rated left-back Abdul Baba Rahman, arriving from Augsburg for a fee of £21.7million.

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Although not exactly what the fans were hoping for it was an essential purchase due to Chelsea's lack of cover in either full-back position - Branislav Ivanovic and Cesar Azpilicueta are the only natural full-backs in the squad - and could in fact alleviate a few of the problems that were evident during the City defeat.

Although there is no doubting that Azpilicueta is a superb defender, it must be admitted that he offers very little attacking threat. When he does get forward, his right-footedness results in a tendency to cut inside and consequently occupy similar areas to Eden Hazard.

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This often leads to the centre becoming congested even further and leaves the side devoid of an influence from wide on the left.

Rahman's natural left-footedness and attacking instinct will offer something that was provided with varying success by Felipe Luis last season - an attacking outlet on the left flank.

The narrowness of Chelsea's trio of attacking midfielders often leaves gaping space out wide with no one to occupy it, something that Rahman will hopefully be able to address.

Indeed, last season Rahman's average of 0.8 crosses per game and 1.4 dribbles, according to WhoScored, dwarfed Azpilicueta's 0.2 crosses and and 0.3 dribbles. This will hopefully add additional potency and unpredictability to Chelsea's attack.

However, this is not a player who will recklessly abandon his defensive duties. Rahman also registered the most tackles per game of any defender in the Bundesliga last season, showing his willingness to put in a shift, something that will appeal to Mourinho.

Moreover, he will add some pace to what has been proven to be a sluggish Chelsea defence. A particular culprit over the past couple of games has been Branislav Ivanovic, who has looked uncharacteristically vulnerable against Jefferson Montero and Raheem Sterling recently. Rahman gives Mourinho the option to switch Azpilicueta to right-back and add athleticism to his back-line.

I am by no means suggesting that Ivanovic is past his best, but he has been Chelsea's first-choice right-back without any challenge for a while now and perhaps some genuine competition will help him to up his game.

Rahman alone will not solve all the problems displayed during Chelsea’s two mediocre showings so far this season, but I am confident that he will be more than simply backup, and more than simply another Azpilicueta. He can offer something different, and as such can have a huge impact.

Chelsea fans, will Baba Rahman replace one of Chelsea's current full-backs? Have your say below!

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Topics:
Jose Mourinho
Football
Cesar Azpilicueta
Chelsea
Premier League
Branislav Ivanovic

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