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28. César Azpilicueta


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17 minutes ago, killer1257 said:


 

 


If it was me, I would rather have RJ and Lamptey than RJ and Azpi. Azpi's time is up.

Lamptey's time is just starting and because RJ is very injury prone and probably will always stay that way, having Lamptey who has completely different characteristics than RJ would have been insane and very intelligent. Lamptey is a very rare player. RJ is slow, Lamptey is fast. RJ is physically very strong, but not mobile. Lamptey is the opposite. Weak, but very mobile and can dribble past players very easily. Both are good crossers. Having both would have been a dream of a coach because you could play much more formations.

I did not say in my post that Lamptey should start ahead of RJ.

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Both are young players, you dont rotate in defense that often unless you have to so Lamptey even if 2nd choices would hardly play seeing as Reece is the obvious first choice RB based on monutes this season. Thats why its better having  a more experienced back up. Someone who’s proven and reliable to a degree. Azpi has only made 6 PL starts this season. In 17 games. He did the right thing leaving and the club also did the right thing letting him go in some capacity as he has to play regularly to further his career. Azpi’s time as a starter is up but as a back up for cup games or lesser teams, he will be more than adequate.

Is James really that injury prone? Or slow? Would have to disagree. 

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Hello everyone, Sorry if I'm being rude, I did not introduce myself, I've been here for a long time but I prefer read you all than sharing my common opinion. But tonight I will share with yo

He's so much more of a threat going forward on the right... Why are we shackling him and ourselves like this? Another Mourinho master stroke. 

I don't know if it's possible for me to disagree more. Azpi's passing this season has been superb; a lot of our build up play is generated through him. Azpi is limited as an attacking RB, but as

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6 hours ago, killer1257 said:

If it was me, I would rather have RJ and Lamptey than RJ and Azpi. Azpi's time is up.

TBF and as @OneMoSalah mentioned above, it's difficult to have 2 young players - only 1 year separates them - vying for the same position in the defence. Unless, there's injury, suspension or just wanting to rest a player, it's unlikely the manager will ever rotate much in a position where you want consistency in the backline. In an ideal world, the club would have loved to keep both James and Lamptey but Lamptey chose to leave because he knew and saw the club chose James to be our #1 right back for the future. Azpi wasn't the issue or anything since he's already getting on and he's not the future for us. This is always gonna be a problem when we have an excellent academy with all the talented players. We aren't going to be able to play/use everyone and some are bound to slip through the door. Also for his sake, hope it doesn't turn out to be an issue but Lamptey has been struggling with a hamstring problem at Brighton. 

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I expected him to regress but he barely put foot wrong this season. 

Also, apart from City game he didn't play in any of our losses this season. 

Definitely RCB with 3 in the back is his best position. 

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1 Ron Harris 795
2 Peter Bonetti 729
3 John Terry 717
4 Frank Lampard 648
5 John Hollins 592
6 Petr Cech 494
7 Dennis Wise 445
8 Steve Clarke 421
9 Kerry Dixon 420
10 Eddie McCreadie 410
11 John Bumstead 409
12 Cesar Azpilicueta 409

 

Will go into top10 Chelsea players with most games in the history probably next week.

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38 minutes ago, NikkiCFC said:
1 Ron Harris 795
2 Peter Bonetti 729
3 John Terry 717
4 Frank Lampard 648
5 John Hollins 592
6 Petr Cech 494
7 Dennis Wise 445
8 Steve Clarke 421
9 Kerry Dixon 420
10 Eddie McCreadie 410
11 John Bumstead 409
12 Cesar Azpilicueta 409

 

Will go into top10 Chelsea players with most games in the history probably next week.

Could end the season in 8th if he plays all the remaining 13 league games or 13 games in all competitions.

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4 minutes ago, Jason said:

Could end the season in 8th if he plays all the remaining 13 league games or 13 games in all competitions.

I initially read this post on the homepage and thought you were talking about league position.

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5 minutes ago, Tomo said:

I initially read this post on the homepage and thought you were talking about league position.

Lampard is not here anymore 🤭

 

12 minutes ago, Jason said:

Could end the season in 8th if he plays all the remaining 13 league games or 13 games in all competitions.

And 7th next season. But cannot see him going further because I think next season will be his last. But overall amazing achievement.

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41 minutes ago, NikkiCFC said:

Lampard is not here anymore 🤭

 

And 7th next season. But cannot see him going further because I think next season will be his last. But overall amazing achievement.

I think his number of appearances will tail off but I wouldn't be surprised to see Dave here for another 3-4 years and play a similar bench role to what Milner does for the Dippers. Having the odd highly experienced player who can play multiple positions is really handy. 

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4 minutes ago, King Kante said:

I think his number of appearances will tail off but I wouldn't be surprised to see Dave here for another 3-4 years and play a similar bench role to what Milner does for the Dippers. Having the odd highly experienced player who can play multiple positions is really handy. 

Azpi is 32 this summer with one year left on contract. You know what we do with older players. Even if we offer him one year extension will he accept it? Because clubs from Italy and Spain would give him longer contracts.

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9 minutes ago, NikkiCFC said:

Azpi is 32 this summer with one year left on contract. You know what we do with older players. Even if we offer him one year extension will he accept it? Because clubs from Italy and Spain would give him longer contracts.

Personally, I think he will just go onto rolling contracts for 2-3 years in a similar way JT and SFL did at the end of their careers. Maybe he goes to Spain but I have a feeling he may end up staying in England after he retires as by all accounts he is very settled here. 

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Here's what Azpi said recently when asked about his future...

https://www.goal.com/en-us/news/kepa-backed-to-clear-Chelsea-bumps-contribute-a-lot-as/kzue9rhtx7eo1djo3yp1zgk5q

“I am very happy at Chelsea. I don't like to look too far ahead. 

“I enjoy the moment, I have the ambition to leave the club at as high a level as I can and I am going to train and play with the hope of continuing to do important things. Hopefully that lasts a long time.”

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57 minutes ago, NikkiCFC said:

Azpi is 32 this summer with one year left on contract. You know what we do with older players. Even if we offer him one year extension will he accept it? Because clubs from Italy and Spain would give him longer contracts.

But have you forgotten what the club did with Luiz and Willian? They gave the former a 2-year deal and then tried to give the latter a 2-year deal as well.

If Azpi is happy to play as backup, then I don't see any harm of keeping him around. He's well settled in London, well liked/respected in the dressing room and done overall a good job as captain on and off the field. 

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Love this guy so much.. Has been around for 9 years and every single manager has started him. Left back, right back, centre back, whatever, he can’t be left out. This might change soon but hope he sticks around for few more seasons.

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Cox: The nine roles Azpilicueta has played for Chelsea

https://theathletic.com/2427566/2021/03/06/cox-the-nine-roles-azpilicueta-has-played-for-Chelsea/

Over the past five years, the rise and fall of Chelsea defenders has largely depended upon changes of manager and changes of system.

Antonio Conte’s switch to a 3-4-3 system a couple of months into 2016-17, at half-time of a 3-0 defeat away to Arsenal, famously transformed Chelsea’s campaign. It also hastened the end for both John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic, unsuited to playing in a system that involved covering more space than in a four-man defence. In turn, it benefited David Luiz, who liked playing as the spare man, and Marcos Alonso, a questionable left-back but an effective left wing-back.

But in a four-man defence under Maurizio Sarri, those two looked less comfortable, and Frank Lampard liked neither. He sold David Luiz and sidelined Alonso, signing Ben Chilwell to play left-back instead. Then, however, the appointment of Thomas Tuchel in January meant Chelsea reverted to a back three, and Alonso has returned to the fold.

Among all this upheaval, one man has invariably kept his place. Club captain Cesar Azpilicueta has demonstrated tremendous versatility since joining the club in 2012. Now into his ninth season at the club, it’s arguable that he’s now played nine separate roles.

Azpiii.png


Role 1: right-back (RB)

Right-back is the position in which Azpilicueta looks most comfortable. It’s the position he played for Marseille, where he was renowned as a combative and attack-minded full-back who enjoyed scampering up and down the touchline.

Upon his signing, he appeared a very different option to existing right-back Ivanovic, considered a predominantly defensive player, even if the Serbian’s crossing improved the more he played out wide.

For example, when Chelsea were losing to Corinthians in the World Club Cup final in 2012, Rafa Benitez tried to inject extra attacking drive by introducing Azpilicueta for Ivanovic. It didn’t work, but that demonstrates his reputation at the time — an attack-minded full-back who would offer more going forward.

Within the broad scope of being a right-back, Azpilicueta’s role has changed under various managers. Under Sarri, it was about holding a solid position for long periods and concentrating on patient build-up play, and Lampard encouraged him to push forward more.

At the end of his career, Azpilicueta will be looked back on, first and foremost, as a right-back. And yet in the majority of his Chelsea appearances, he’s played other roles…


Role 2: right midfield (RM)

These days, Azpilicueta is regarded as a pure defender, an old-school full-back about stopping wingers and getting tackles in. But Azpilicueta started out as a right-sided midfielder with Osasuna, and was deployed in that role in his formative days at Chelsea.

When Roberto Di Matteo was dismissed following a Champions League defeat at Juventus, plenty suggested that his crime was fielding Eden Hazard as his lone centre-forward, but arguably a more unusual selection decision was fielding Azpilicueta on the right of midfield. Here, he’s over on the far side as Chelsea’s most advanced player.

RM.png

He performed well in that role, however, effectively man-marking Kwadwo Asamoah. Sure enough, the Ghanaian scored shortly after Azpilicueta was substituted.

Azpilicueta was also fielded there on occasion by Jose Mourinho, most notably for a Champions League semi-final defeat to Atletico Madrid in 2014. Mourinho wanted extra defensive presence to guard against the attacking threat of Filipe Luis — whom Chelsea would sign that summer. Chelsea actually conceded two goals down the other side, however, when Hazard switched off and allowed Juanfran to run past him untracked. Perhaps Azpilicueta should have been used on the left side…


Role 3: left-back (LB)

Indeed, Mourinho had generally played Azpilicueta on the left of his four-man defence — to the extent that he displaced Ashley Cole, arguably the most successful left-back in English football history.

Azpilicueta is hardly the first right-footed player to become comfortable at left-back — Paolo Maldini would be the most obvious example — but the most intriguing aspect is that Chelsea were playing two right-footers down the left. Hazard was the main man in the title-winning campaign of 2014-15 — he was awarded the PFA and FWA player of the season awards — but he wasn’t cutting inside with an overlapping player providing the width, as would later be the case with Alonso. When Azpilicueta did provide crosses into the box, it tended to be after he’d cut back onto his stronger right foot, as for this Diego Costa header against Aston Villa.

LB.png

Azpilicueta overlapped sporadically, but in general, this role was about maintaining his position, making sure the left-back zone was filled, and minimising the gap between himself and Terry, who didn’t like being forced to cover space on the outside.


Role 4: right centre-back (RCB)

Azpilicueta might have assumed that Conte’s switch to a three-man defence would mean him operating as a wing-back — indeed, after Conte’s substitution at the Emirates, that’s exactly where Azpilicueta played for half an hour, on the opposite side to Alonso.

But when Conte used the system from the outset of matches, Azpilicueta became established on the right of the three-man defence. Despite lacking the height to play as a proper centre-back, and having the positionally unreliable David Luiz to his left, Azpilicueta largely excelled in that role. The only issue came when he was tested in the air — notably, Chelsea’s first defeat after Conte’s switch came in a 2-0 defeat away at Tottenham, with both goals featuring Christian Eriksen chipping the ball into Azpilicueta’s zone for Dele Alli headers.

RCB1.png

RCB2.png

“I’m more central and maybe play more with the ball because we build from the back,” Azpilicueta explained of his role at the time. “I’m in possession more and there are no overlaps and not a lot of crosses from the wing, but it’s a role I’m enjoying.”

Azpilicueta arguably played his best football in that position the following season, after the arrival of Alvaro Morata. He struck up a fine partnership with his compatriot, regularly crossing from narrow positions in the right-hand channel to supply Morata with headed chances in his impressive first couple of months, including this winner against Manchester United.

RCB3.png


Role 5: a half-back (HB), pushing forward to become an extra midfielder

A variation on the above role came towards the end of the title-winning season under Conte, when Azpilicueta wouldn’t merely maintain his position on the right of a three-man defence, but instead push forward into a right-centre midfield role in the attacking phase, turning a 3-2-5 into more of a 2-3-5, with David Luiz and Gary Cahill alone at the back, and the midfield looking like a proper trio. Here, Azpilicueta pushes ahead of Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic to help break the lines.

HB.png

This was based around where Conte considered the opposition’s counter-attacking threat would arise from. If it was about balls into midfield runners, Azpilicueta would push into midfield. If it was about longer balls from defence to attack, he would focus on minimising the space on the outside of David Luiz, and stay in a back three.

This position doesn’t really have a name, but it’s comparable to the old “half-back” position teams used to deploy in the 2-3-5 “pyramid” formation, and broadly similar to the role Joao Cancelo has sometimes operated in this season for Manchester City.


Role 6: right wing-back (RWB)

As previously mentioned, Azpilicueta briefly played as a wing-back under Conte before being moved to the right of the back three, and he reprised that role at times under Lampard last season, particularly in a three-game spell before Christmas when Lampard used three centre-backs, but preferred Antonio Rudiger on the right of the trio.

RWB.png

Azpilicueta was comfortable enough in that position, as you’d expect of a right-back who is happy to push forward. The crucial thing, though, is that while some defensive-minded right-backs would only be able to tuck inside and play on the right side of a three-man defence, and some attacking right-backs would only be able to play as a wing-back, Azpilicueta is happy to do both.


Role 7: left wing-back (LWB)

And if Azpilicueta can play wing-back on the right, and full-back on the left… then left wing-back shouldn’t be much of an issue either, should it?

He only played this role a couple of times, both under Conte. When Alonso was absent, such as for the 2-0 defeat to Manchester United, Conte didn’t have a natural replacement as a wing-back on the left, so introduced an extra central defender in Kurt Zouma, and moved Azpilicueta from right centre-back to left wing-back.

He made the same shift midway through the Community Shield defeat to Arsenal a few months later, after Alonso departed and was replaced by Rudiger. This was probably the role Azpilicueta looked least comfortable in, with a wing-back having more overlapping responsibility than a full-back, but he coped reasonably well. Although unable to hug the touchline and swing crosses in, he still timed his runs well — as for another assist for Morata, away at Stoke City, when he charged in behind to latch onto a Fabregas chip over the top.

LWB.png


Role 8: centre-back (CB)

A conventional centre-back? In a back four?

Yes. Possibly only once, and you might well have missed it because it came on the final day of 2018-19, a 0-0 draw at home to Leicester, when most were focused on whether Manchester City or Liverpool would secure the league title. It was Sarri’s final league game in charge of Chelsea, although the Europa League final against Arsenal was still to come.

This unusual move probably owed to Sarri being scared of Jamie Vardy’s movement into the inside-left channel and believing that Azpilicueta would be a better option than Andreas Christensen, who remained on the bench. Therefore, Davide Zappacosta played in Azpilicueta’s right-back role and the Spaniard moved inside to play alongside David Luiz as part of a traditional two-man centre-back pairing.

It worked well — here, Azpilicueta is clearly the right-sided centre-back in a four-man defence…

CB1.png

…and keeps pace with Vardy to nip ahead of him at a counter-attack and intercept a Marc Albrighton cross. In effect, Azpilicueta was almost handed a man-marking brief.

CB2.png


Role 9: overlapping right centre-back (ORCB)

The appointment of Tuchel has prompted a return to the 3-4-2-1 formation that Chelsea were playing, more or less, under Conte. Azpilicueta, sure enough, has become a right-sided centre-back again.

But it’s really a new role. Remember the quote from Azpilicueta about his role on the right of a back three under Conte? “There are no overlaps.” That’s definitely not the case under Tuchel. Azpilicueta starts on the right of a back three but has constantly made overlapping runs around Chelsea’s right-wing-back, often Callum Hudson-Odoi, to catch the opposition by surprise.

In fact, he scored the first goal of the Tuchel reign against Burnley in precisely that situation. There seems little chance that Azpilicueta will be involved in this move, but his overlapping run…

ORCB1.png

…is eventually rewarded, as Hudson-Odoi slips him in, and Azpilicueta blasts into the top of the net.

ORCB2.png

And therefore this feels very different to his role under Conte — as a Sheffield United-style “overlapping centre-back”, rather than one who holds his position — or pushes into central midfield.

Azpilicueta has a contract until the end of next season, which will be his 10th at Stamford Bridge. In days gone by, players were rewarded with a testimonial to mark their decade at a club. For Azpilicueta, a more fitting tribute would be a 10th different role to mark his 10th season. Whether it’s as a false nine, as an inverted winger from the left or as an emergency goalkeeper, Azpilicueta’s track record suggests he’d be up to the challenge.

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Give him a new 2 year deal. I think he us definitely capable of getting close to 500 games for us. At RCB in this 3 if its persisted with it gives him much more chances of prolonging his career here.

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