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7 Tackles, 4 Interceptions Against Tottenham – Why This Makeshift Center-Back Has Been A Revelation At Chelsea This Season

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Chelsea have been rampant this season in the Premier League and are currently seated at the top of the Premier League table. Seven wins in seven games have meant talks of a title victory are rife around Stamford Bridge.

While each player has played his part to the Blues rise to the top, one player has particularly stood out with his eye-catching displays. Cesar Azpilicueta is enjoying some of his best time in Chelsea colours this season.

Azpilicueta, along with David Luiz and Gary Cahill, has looked absolutely resolute at the back for Chelsea in the three men defence that new manager Antonio Conte has been playing.

Signed from Marseille in 2012 for just £7 million, the Spaniard until this season had appeared in full-back positions on either flank for the Londoners. Having proved adept at playing as a right-back and a left-back, Azpilicueta has demonstrated his skillfulness and adaptability yet again in a central defensive role this season for Conte’s men.

The Spaniard has been playing on the right-hand side of a three-man central defence since the game against Hull City after a three-goal mauling at the Emirates. Chelsea have won all their fixtures since, and their record reads: Played 7, Won 7, Scored 19, Conceded 1. The numbers speak for themselves.

Azpilicueta, who has more pace than his partners, has displayed great tenacity and defensive instincts. Never the one to give an inch to his opponents, Azpilicueta’s excellence has meant Conte has not called on John Terry in recent weeks or has rushed Kurt Zouma back into the line-up, while Branislav Ivanovic continues to bide time on the substitutes’ bench. The Italian is of the opinion that Azpilicueta is perfectly suited for the role.

“Azpi is a fantastic player because he can play different roles but I think the role that he’s playing now is perfect for him,” said the manager. “He’s playing very well because he’s fast, has good technique and he’s a clever player. He can play in different roles but this role I think is perfect for him.”

And the Spaniard was at it his best once again on Saturday, against derby rivals Tottenham. He put in the most number of tackles (7) on the night against Spurs. The 27-year old was also at the top in the number of interceptions, making 4 interceptions along with 5 clearances. Solid, in one word.

Azpilicueta, having started all PL games this season, has now helped Chelsea keep seven clean sheets this season, leading his team to the top of the defensive charts of the Premier League having conceded only 10 times so far.

While the change in formation has managed to unleash the likes Eden Hazard and Pedro, Azpilicueta along with his partners has made sure his team have been solid at the back. Credit to Conte for having spotted the Spaniard’s ability and for showing continued trust in him. Credit to Azpilicueta for having repaid his manager’s trust with some rock like performances at the back. His emergence as a quality centre-back has played a huge role in Chelsea’s rise to the top this season. Azpilicueta has been nothing short of excellent this term and is deserving of all the plaudits coming his way.