Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ballack Reveals Chelsea Stars Held Summit to End Set-Piece Blunders

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ballack Reveals Chelsea Stars Held Summit to End Set-Piece Blunders

Article excerpt

Byline: Simon Johnson Football Correspondent

MICHAEL BALLACK today revealed Chelsea's players have held crisis talks in a bid to sort out their poor defending at set-pieces. Chelsea have lost their last two away games against Wigan and Aston Villa in the Premier League after conceding three sloppy goals from corner kicks.

That weakness cost the club in the title race last term, when they dropped a number of points between November and February under previous manager Luiz Felipe Scolari, who was then sacked.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti made the squad work overtime in training yesterday on defending set-pieces as they prepare for tomorrow's Champions League clash against Atletico Madrid.

And Ballack admitted the players have also had words with each other to ensure they stop repeating mistakes.

The 33-year-old midfielder said: "We have no problem criticising each other in the dressing room. A good team and strong players must do this and we have. After that we shake hands and go back on the training pitch.

"I think I have to do this, not just because of my age. I have a few years behind me and I have been through a few situations. I have to speak to help the team but not just me, everyone has to take responsibility.

"We trained on set-piece situations but it is all about individual mistakes. It is a little unusual for us to concede two goals in one game the way we did against Aston Villa. That is why we were all disappointed afterwards.

"We watched the video of the match and everyone can see who made the mistakes. That is football, somebody has to make the mistakes.

"We have to be aware. Everyone has to improve their movement and defensive organisation. It is a point of personal attitude."

John Terry was caught by the television cameras, after an unmarked James Collins scored Villa's second goal in their 2-1 win on Saturday, having a furious rant at his team-mates. But Ballack added: "His reaction on the pitch shows he takes a big responsibility. …

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