Chelsea’s Mr Reliable Cesar Azpilicueta Isn’t Mr Reliable This Season!

Let me start this blog by stating that I’ve loved watching Cesar Azpilicueta since he arrived at Chelsea in 2012.

Back in January 2017, I stated that I felt he was Chelsea’s best player that season.

He’s a consistent and reliable performer, hence why since his arrival in 2012 only goalkeepers David De Gea and Hugo Lloris have played more minutes in the Premier League.

At twenty-nine years of age; Cesar has won two league titles, an FA Cup, a League Cup and two Europa League triumphs.

The Spanish international is a strong versatile defender. He came to Stamford Bridge as a right-back but one of his first tasks at the club was to usher longterm left-back hero Ashley Cole out of his position at the club. As well as playing on either side as a fullback, the committed talent has also been used in the centre-back role.

Under new manager Frank Lampard, Chelsea have a younger defence than they’ve been used to in the past. That was re-emphasised when the club allowed veteran Brazilian centre-back David Luiz to join London rivals Arsenal this summer (Via Skysports).

This term has seen Azpilicueta return to his right back slot, with young duo Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen the new centre back partnership. After struggling to break into the team in recent seasons, Emerson Palmieri seems to be Lampard’s first choice right back. The Blues also have a young number one in goalkeeper Kepa.

That means club captain Cesar is the leader and the elder statesman at the back.

The problem is that the Spaniard has had a pretty poor start to the season for The Blues.

Durning the opening weekend of the season, Chelsea were stuffed 4-0 by Manchester United (BBC Match Report).

Too many times Cesar was caught too far up field. Positionally the captain cost his team two goals because he either switched off, ran out of gas or wasn’t aware of his surroundings. The defender lost possession on twenty-two occasions that day, more than any other player!

Against Leicester City this past weekend, the experienced campaigner was caught under the ball for the corner that led to Wilfred Ndidi’s goal. Azpilicueta needs to react quicker as the cross gets played in and make sure he’s first to the ball. He was flatfooted and that gave Ndidi the opportunity to out jump him. That goal saw Chelsea drop from three points to just one in their first two league games of the season.

While he was better in the Super Cup loss to Liverpool, it was still the experienced defender who caused the mistake that allowed The Reds back into the game. He didn’t step up with everyone else and that meant the Liverpool forward line were onside as they found an equaliser.

These are mistakes that we simply aren’t used to seeing from Cesar Azpilicueta at Chelsea.

Obviously the whole Chelsea squad are working on a new project and are getting used to what Frank Lampard expects from them. There’s being teething problems and that’s to be expected. I doubt anyone thought Cesar was going to be the club’s weakest link in their opening two Premier League games.

Ironically after Azpilicueta pushed an ageing Ashley Cole out of the Chelsea team when he first arrived, the Spaniard could now come under pressure from youngster Reece James.

Mr Reliable Cesar Azpilicueta has to regain his defensive consistency and once again lead by example, if he can’t then he’ll become too much of a liability and that might see gaffer Lampard having to axe his captain!

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