While the likes of Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas have been garnering the majority of the headlines for Chelsea this season, there is a strong case to suggest that it’s been defender Cesar Azpilicueta who has been the club’s best player this year. The Spanish full back has been a crucial part of Jose Mourinho’s plans since the manager’s return to Stamford Bridge, and Azpilicueta has repaid that trust by establishing himself as one of the Premier League’s most consistent defenders.
With the Spaniard in the team, Chelsea have only conceded eight goals in eight Premier League games this season, and the 25-year old should take as much credit as anyone for the club’s fantastic start to the new campaign.
Former Premier League defenders Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher singled out the Chelsea full-back as the best defender in England at the start of November. The pair, who boast a combined total of 908 Premier League appearances between them, both agreed that Azpilicueta was the pound-for-pound best defender in the country.
The duo, who now work as pundits for Sky Sports, opted for the Chelsea man when asked who they felt was the best defender in the country based on purely defensive attributes. For two former players who spent much of their career as bitter rivals, it was telling that both Carragher and Neville singled out Azpilicueta as their number-one choice.
Since his low-key arrival from Marseille for a reported £7 million, Azpilicueta wasted little time in making his mark on this Chelsea squad. Despite being signed predominantly as a right-back, the Spaniard quickly found himself on the left-hand side of the Chelsea defence after dispossessing Ashley Cole for the left-back spot. While the Spain international has been used mainly on the left during his two years at the club, Chelsea know that they are able to play Azpilicueta anywhere across the back-line without any trouble and his versatility is just another reason as to why the defender has been such a great addition.
Capable of providing a decent attacking threat up the flanks, the 25-year old’s main strength lies with his defensive abilities.
Mourinho has never hidden his admiration of the defender and made it clear just how important a player that Azpilicueta has become in the Blues side by claiming if he had 11 players like the Spaniard then he would have no problem winning the Champions League. Even with just one Azpilicueta, however, Chelsea are still very much in the thinking of those looking at the football news and tips at betfair as being genuine contenders for this season’s Champions League crown.
With Thibaut Courtois in goal, Azpilicueta at the back, Fabregas in the middle and Diego Costa in attack, there aren’t many teams in this year’s competition who can boast a spine as strong as the one Chelsea currently have.
While the Champions League will be high on Jose Mourinho’s list of targets this season, it would seem as though it is regaining the Premier League title that drives the Chelsea boss most this season. After falling just short last season, Mourinho will know he can’t afford any slip-ups now he has managed to get his side in a strong position in the table. But don’t get it wrong, winning the Champions League with Chelsea is something that has eluded Mourinho so far during his two spells in charge, and the Portuguese coach will be desperate to add a third Champions League title to his collection and a first in charge of the English club.