Since joining Chelsea in 2012, Cesar Azpilicueta has been a massive part in Chelsea’s defensive improvements, covering the departures of Ashley Cole and John Terry because of his ability to play anywhere across the back-line. With so much talk about other top defenders within the Premier League, why doesn’t the Spaniard get more praise?
Nicknamed “Dave” by his Chelsea faithful as his name was hard to pronounce, the 28-year-old has been a favourite at Stamford Bridge for many years now. Azpilicueta played every minute of Chelsea’s Premier League title-winning season last term and has continued this campaign how he ended the last, in terrific form.
As one of the most consistent and overall players in the league, why doesn’t Cesar Azpilicueta receive the plaudits he deserves?
The Spaniard’s position adaptation
When Chelsea signed Azpilicueta from Marseille for £7m, expectation wouldn’t have been the highest. It was unlucky that many fans would been optimistic after his start in a Blue’s shirt as well. In his Champions League debut he scored the games only goal, albeit an own goal in Chelsea’s home loss to Spartak Moscow.
However the doubters were soon proved wrong as over the course of the season as the right-back improved. Just under a year after, manager at the time Jose Mourinho said “Azpilicueta is the kind of player I like a lot. I think a team with 11 Azpilicueta’s would probably win the Champions League because football is not just about pure talent”. During the Spaniards successful time with Jose Mourinho, he also converted position and often Azpilicueta played as a left-back. But no matter what position or the opposition he played against, “Dave” continued to improve and therefore cemented a starting line-up spot.
From his very first season at the Blues, he managed 48 appearances, already establishing himself as a first-choice right back. Azpilicueta’s second season ended by winning the Chelsea Players’ Player of the Year award. He won his first Premier League title in 2015.
The main reason that Azpilicueta can continue to change position’s is down to his discipline. During his 174 Premier League appearances, he has only seen red once. His pace for a defender enables him to stay strong and resolute wherever he plays as he has now found himself at the heart of Chelsea’s defence in centre-back.
Link-up with Alvaro Morata
Since big-money signing Alvaro Morata arrived at Stamford Bridge this season, their partnership has blosmed further. Cesar Azpilicueta has 5 Premier League assists this season and amazingly, all of them have ended in a Alvaro Morata goal. The defender’s pin-point crossing ability has left defenders helpless but Morata on the other hand, knowing exactly where to place himself to give himself the best chance of scoring.
This is actually the deadliest duo in terms of assists and goals within the Premier League. Their latest double act came against Manchester United in what was the games winning goal. Azpilicueta’s exquist delievery perfectly found the no.9 and De Gea simply stood and watched the ball into the back of the net.
Considering Azpilicueta regulary moves positions within the Blues defence, to bag 5 assists already this season is a great achievement and I believe this relationship will only continue to thrieve.
Currently, Cesar Azpilicueta is trying to break his own record for consecutive appearances as his latest record is 74 games in a row. However manager Antonio Conte told the defender that he has little chance of doing this as the Italian wants squad rotation over the Christmas period. Conte said: ‘I think for every player I try to protect every player. When you play every three days, it’s very difficult. Also because it’s impossible to keep your form the best.”
The amount of appearances speaks volumes about the Spaniard, proving that Chelsea ultimately believe in him to consistantly perform for the Blues.
Azpilicueta’s statisitics from this season
Unbelievably, Azpilicueta has an 100% shooting accuracy and with that, has come 1 Premier League goal for the Blues. Although ‘Dave’s’ purpose isn’t shooting, to have 100% accuracy is a statistic knowone else can match. It’s safe to say that figure is unlikely to last the whole season but as well as his defending contributions, he can also pop up with goals for the defending champions.
In the 15 games he has been involved with the Blues league campaign this season, he and his co-defenders have conceded just 13 goals, with 3 of those coming on their shock opening day loss to Burnley. Chelsea have since improved and revived themselves up the table where they now sit in 3rd place.
Azpilicueta places 10th in the league with the most interceptions this season. His current tally is 39 with Leciester’s Wilfried Ndidi leading with an impressive 65 interceptions.
Why Cesar Azpilicueta will go down as a Chelsea legend
We all know that in modern-day football, loyalty is hard to come by. Considering how the Spaniard was hardly a known name at the time of joining Chelsea in 2012, his progression with the club I believe will earn him a legendary status in years to come for the Blues.
A legend would be considered as someone who wears the shirt with pride, always puts a shift in for his team and wears his heart of his sleeve. All of these characteristics can be recognised in Cesar Azpilicueta. The fact that Azpilicueta is only 28 years old, he still should have a good 5 years at the top of his game and the Blues fans certainly hope it is at Stamford Bridge.
With the price of players through the roof at this current time, it’s hard to imagine how much the no.28 would be worth but more if Chelsea lost him, how big that loss would prove. The old saying goes – You don’t know what you had until it’s gone. In this case though, Chelsea fans should be well aware of what Cesar Azpilcueta brings to the team and how they simply can’t afford to lose him.
Believe me when I say that Cesar Azpilcueta should and will be regarded as a Chelsea legend and currently right now, he is the most underrated defender in the Premier League.