2017 UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL HOTELS, CARDIFF June 3RD & KIEV 2018 - CLICK HERE to BOOK HOTELS PACKAGES The defence: rated after 10 league games

The defence: rated after 10 league games

So after 10 league games, Chelsea sit second in the Premier League table and second in their Champions League group, with progress to the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup also secured. What started out in the first few games as quite a solid back 4, has started to leak more goals with the absence of our captain John Terry. In the 4 league games Terry missed, Chelsea conceded 10 goals, and only won 1 game, which was albeit away at White Hart Lane. But after 10 league games, just past a quarter of the way into the campaign, it’s time to give out some ratings for our defence based on their individual performances so far. 

Azpilicueta (Dave) (5)

Hard to give Dave more than a 5, due to the fact that he’s only started 3 games the whole campaign, with 2 of those being in the League cup. But I’ve seen signs so far from Dave that he’ll prove to be a reliable right back for the blues. It will take a while for him to settle, and will be hard for him to gain a place with Ivanovic having made that position his own this season, but I feel confident in this guys ability. Decent going forward, with a lot of pace, but also quite composed at the back when in one on ones. It’s too early to fully give an analysis of Dave, but 5 seems fair considering he hasn’t done too much wrong.

Ivanovic (7)

Branislav Ivanovic is something of a cult hero at Chelsea. He doesn’t speak to the media much, just gets on with his football, but he’s ever so reliable going forward and at the back. Having scored 3 goals so far this season, 1 of which was a volley that Torres would have been proud of, it just shows how much strength Chelsea have in attack when our defenders are contributing goals to the cause. He’s been a bit shaky at times at the back, and when asked to play in the centre he looks a lot more comfortable. Overall though, he’s been very consistent with his performance, and having playing 19 games so far this season, it just shows how important he is to the team. 

David Luiz (6.5)

Oh David Luiz. Where to start with this geezer. A fans favourite no doubt, there were signs at the beginning of the season that he’d finally eradicated some of those silly traits which made him so open for attack by the media. But over the last few games we’ve seen some of the old, and not so good David Luiz creep in. He tries to play the long ball far too much, with a shocking completion percentage, and at times this year he’s been dispossessed of the ball in midfield, which has left a huge hole at the back. However, these mistakes have mainly come when he’s been playing with Gary Cahill. When Luiz plays with JT I think the skipper helps Luiz quite a lot. He keeps Luiz focused, and is also responsible for saving Luiz on a few occasions. It almost feels as though he’s trying to do too much with the ball, and forgets that he’s playing at centre-half. When we’re 3 or 4 up in a game against a weak opposition, by all means try to break through the midfield, but this shouldn’t happen every game. Eventually I do think that Luiz will be tried at DM, which may even happen at some point this season. With his footballing ability when it comes to free kicks, short passing, pace, and his drive to move the ball forward, he could potentially play there. But with Mikel in such great form and Ramires such a vital player, I think he’ll stick to playing centre back. I give Luiz a 6.5 because he has shown great signs of improvement this season, but once again it’s the same old story of trying to eradicate mistakes which people talk about.

Gary Cahill (9)

Gary Cahill has been Chelsea’s best defender this season, without any question. This guy looks a real bargain at £7 million, considering the prices paid for English players nowadays, and looks even better when you consider Liverpool paid £20 million for Downing! Cahill has evolved into one of the finest centre-halves in the country, making last ditch tackles and blocks which are very similar to John Terry. The guy doesn’t try to do anything fancy, just playing it safe, and this is what we need at centre-back. Chipping in with 5 goals already in only 13 games, that’s a record that a striker would be pretty proud of! Cahill does have an eye for goal, as we saw against Spurs at White Hart Lane with THAT volley! He’s another defender who regularly chips in with the goals, and is such a threat from set pieces as he showed for Moses’ goal vs Swansea, whilst also being reliable against opposition set pieces. Cahill has been a revelation since coming to Chelsea in January, and he’s a player who I feel very comfortable having in the back four. With JT retiring in a few years, and Cahill only 26, there’s a chance that he could be a future Chelsea captain. Watch this space.

John Terry (8)

Our captain, our leader, our legend. There seems to be controversy everywhere JT goes, but it’s clear to see that this hasn’t affected his performance so far this season. Still such a leader for our team, putting his body on the line for club and not hiding away when others would have, JT’s been solid this season. With him at the back we look a much better unit, and we did miss his leadership in the 4 matches he missed due to his ban. There’s been mutterings that this could be Terry’s last season, with the club wanting to separate themselves from any controversy, but it would be an unwise move to make the decision just yet. An 8 seems fair considering how well we’ve played with Terry in the team, and we now just have to hope that there’s no more incidents regarding JT to distract the club.

Ashley Cole (7)

Ashley Cole is up there and maybe even is still the best left back in the world. But it’s fair to say that he’s struggling with injuries and with a bit of form. Giving away the ball for the equaliser against Swansea, and isolated for both of United’s early goals in the league, maybe this injury will do some good for Cole. He’s another one who didn’t do himself any favours with his tweet about the FA, even though I agree with him and happily put the same hash tag myself! But this doesn’t seem to affect him, and most of his problems come from being left on his own at left-back, when he should have support from Hazard. But having said that, he’s still been a key player for us, starting 17 games in all, and we would be foolish to let him go just yet. He may not be liked by everyone in the media like JT, but we do love him as our player. A 7 seems fair considering his early form, and I just hope that this injury he has doesn’t continue to flair up as it has done in the past, and that we get our left-back playing again, equipped with his star on his shirt. 

Ryan Bertrand (6)

Ryan has only made 6 starts so far this season, and is likely to get another on Sunday against Liverpool, but a lot of his early time on the pitch was spent at left-wing as part of the front 3, as Chelsea adapted to their system and tried to integrate all of these new players. Used at left-wing in the Champions League final in order to help Cole in defence, he carried that on in the beginning as Chelsea went to the top of the league. However, there are signs that Ryan isn’t quite ready to be our regular starter. Against Shakhtar on Wednesday night he was given a torrid time by Srna, however once again this was due to the lack of support. But there are signs that he still has much to learn. Having said that I have no doubt that he’ll be England’s future left-back, and has impressed Hodgson this season so much so that he gained his first England caps. I’m a big fan of Bertrand, and have faith that he’ll turn into a world class left-back, just like Ashley Cole.

So there you have it. The defence has been shaky at times, but we’ve got our captain back on Sunday to try and sort things out, and there’s a lot of hope that this defence will become as solid as the title winning defences we’ve had over the years. A mixture of experience and youth is key to keeping the defence fresh and successful, and just as the attacking side of Chelsea is exciting, there’s also lots to be excited about with our back 4. Come on you blues!


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Will Talbut @WSTalbs


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