Cesar Azpilicueta may be excused for feeling just like the odd one out at Chelsea.
After a season wherein Frank Lampard entrusted the youth and a summer time wherein Frank Lampard entrusted Roman Abramovich’s chequebook, Azpilicueta is one thing of an anachronism at Stamford Bridge.
At 31, Azpilicueta is in no way one for the longer term. A €7million signing from Marseille 10 years in the past, neither is he the kind of identify to set supporters’ pulses racing.
Alongside Kurt Zouma, six years his junior, Azpilicueta is one among solely two gamers left at Chelsea to have featured commonly beneath Jose Mourinho in west London. However in terms of this Chelsea squad, maybe being one thing of a throwback shouldn’t be fairly the backhanded praise it appears. Once you consider the place Chelsea have been and the place they’re now, it’s truly very bloody worthwhile.
Reinvention is nothing new for the Spain worldwide. Initially signed as a right-back, he initially established himself within the facet as a left-back, ushering Ashley Cole out of the door and successful the Gamers’ Participant of the Yr award in 2013-14 earlier than including Premier League and League Cup winner’s medals the next season.
Upon Antonio Conte’s arrival, Azpilicueta then advanced into one of many Premier League’s most underrated inventive forces from the right-hand-side of a again three. And beneath Maurizio Sarri and now Lampard, Azpilicueta has as soon as once more taken on a brand new persona, this time as a snarling shithouse, all the time first within the ear of the referee and the face of the opposition – in different phrases, the perfect membership captain.
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READ: Azpilicueta has gone from underrated participant to underrated sh*thouse
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Whereas Chelsea attempt to forge a brand new id beneath Lampard, having a hyperlink again to the times of serial successful beneath Mourinho and Conte among the many taking part in squad may show worthwhile to a gaggle of younger gamers but to develop the identical mentality. Even when his days as a fixture of the beginning XI are not any extra, Azpilicueta can nonetheless move on an important lesson; particularly, don’t take any shit, whether or not that’s from the opposition or one another.
The proof has been there in latest weeks. First, Azpilicueta was compelled to look at on from the bench as Thiago Silva’s Chelsea debut descended into farce as West Brom scored 3 times within the opening half. Handed the captain’s armband in Azpilicueta’s absence, Silva was embarrassingly robbed of the ball by Callum Robinson, resulting in the Baggies’ third.
Azpilicueta was parachuted in at half-time, taking the armband again off Silva, and was pictured giving the previous Brazil and PSG skipper agency directions earlier than the sport kicked again off. For all that’s product of Lampard’s tactical acumen, or lack thereof, generally one of the simplest ways to resolve an issue is to ship on a participant who’s going to inform his team-mates, ‘Lads, let’s cease taking part in like dickheads.’
Marcos Alonso & Kovacic are OFF ❌
Hudson-Odoi & Azpilicueta are ON ✅
Two adjustments for Chelsea at half-time 🔵 pic.twitter.com/IvfbZkByIB
— Soccer Day by day (@footballdaily) September 26, 2020
With Azpilicueta on the pitch, Chelsea stored a clear sheet within the second half to supply the foundations for his or her comeback in salvaging a 3-Three draw.
The total-back even registered an help for Mason Mount’s stunner which kickstarted the restoration, albeit with a simple five-yard move, however he offered a way more skilful help for Timo Werner in Chelsea’s subsequent fixture, in opposition to Tottenham within the League Cup, sending compatriot Sergio Reguilon again to Madrid with a cheeky dummy.
After conceding 3 times in 45 minutes at The Hawthorns, Chelsea have now conceded simply as soon as in 180 minutes since Azpilicueta was restored to the group. His first Premier League begin of the season coincided with Chelsea’s first clear sheet within the league this time period within the 4-Zero victory over Crystal Palace, however as soon as once more it was his management of dressing room egos that caught the attention.
Tammy Abraham initially insisted on taking Chelsea’s second penalty of the sport simply 4 minutes after Jorginho had transformed from the spot in direction of the top of the sport. Abraham refused to budge when Werner requested to take the penalty as an alternative, so Azpilicueta averted a probably awkward state of affairs with a easy answer: neither participant would take the penalty as Jorginho is the membership’s designated taker. Jorginho scored.
Tammy Abraham shouldn’t be comfortable about this 😠
César Azpilicueta has to tug the striker away from the spot as he wished to take the penalty…
Jorginho makes no mistake (once more) 👊 pic.twitter.com/l4dQylb5Y5
— Soccer on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) October 3, 2020
“It’s been handled within the dressing room,” Lampard advised BT Sport after the match. “No issues, it’s been handled. I need leaders and I don’t thoughts a bit battle.
“If Tammy wished to take it and desires the purpose, then he can get put in his place a bit bit. I respect his eagerness as a result of his efficiency deserved a purpose, however these are the principles.
“You don’t leap the record at any second until somebody is on a hat-trick. We’re so comfy that I resolve.”
As he’s obtained older, Azpilicueta has obtained fairly good at placing folks of their place. Perhaps that’s a part of what makes him the odd one out at Stamford Bridge. Perhaps that’s precisely what Lampard wants from his captain proper now.
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