Unbeaten and Unfazed, Chelsea look confident and comfortable with every passing game this season; Jose Mourinho might just have found his perfect 11 with Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas being the missing pieces of the puzzle.
It’s the great chemistry between players that makes a great team. Every player has to earn his regular start; all it takes is one poor performance to get back on the bench. Today we shed light upon the Chelsea bench which is filled with a variety of international stars; some rumored to be moving out in the January window and who seldom make it to the papers for their performances.
It may motivate them or frustrate them, but no football player enjoys to watch their team play while on the bench. Chelsea’s costly group of Benched Players who are waiting for the opportunity to get back on the playing field and earn their place in the starting 11.
With Thibaut Courtois returning to Stamford Bridge this season following three years at Atletico Madrid, Jose Mourinho faced a real headache over the goalkeeping selection. He has two of the finest keepers in Europe at his disposal, with Cech being Chelsea’s undisputed No 1 for a decade, and Courtois emerging as the best young stopper in Europe during his time in Spain. If the rumors are true, last season’s winner of the golden glove might be off to a club where he is given the number 1 status come January. With more than 100 clean sheets, Chelsea would miss out on the immense experience that Petr Cech brings to the table.
It’s not easy to keep Cesar Azpilicueta out of the first team; The Spain international was absolutely phenomenal last season playing out of his position as a Left Back. Luis, on the other hand, was one of La Liga’s best left backs last season. The Brazilian is quick on his feet and can feed strikers with accurate crosses while on the attack, but when it’s defensive duties and work rate, Cesar Azpilicueta is the man to beat; perhaps this being the only reason Fillipe Luis has been sidelined.
John Obi Mikel
A couple of years ago, Mikel was an influential member of the first XI. In the 2010-11 season he started 28 matches in the Premier League, featuring in 22 the year after. In January this year the Blues made one of the best signings in Nemanja Matic. Evidently, the Serbian is an upgrade on the West African in almost every department. Matic has great mobility and can influence a game offensively. Mikel, who is now 27, brings the experience, the poise and the presence required by the Pensioners when they opt to negotiate the dying stages of fixtures, a valuable art.
As soon as Fernando Torres was loaned to AC Milan, Chelsea were able to pop over to Loftus Road and help themselves to a ready-made upgrade for £8.5million. The french international has a lot to offer; his consistency and his physicality. Besides, he boasts a rare skill set that also includes exceptional speed, canny movement, tricky feet and exquisite finishing. Unfortunately for Loic Remy his competition includes the legend Didier Drogba and the goal machine Diego Costa and as such we are yet to see Remy showcase his full potential but with Costa scoring goals in almost every game, it’s difficult for the Frenchman to play a full length of 90 minutes unless the calamity called injury strikes him out. However, the next season shall see him gain more minutes on the pitch thanks to the imminent retirement of Drogs at the end of the season.
The Ivorian spent two years away from Chelsea at Shanghai Shenhua and Galatasaray and admitted Jose Mourinho played a big part in his return. Drogba knows he isn’t here to compete with Diego Costa or Loic Remy for the striker’s position; he carries immense experience that this young squad needs. The Ivorian can adapt quickly and guide the team to a motivated victory when needed. The 36-year-old adds maturity to the team; acting as a general when brought on at any stage of the game. Here’s what his homecoming has all been about:
“Mourinho said to me that a player like me, who has history with the club, should come back one day. He said I have to come back and I agree with him because, even if I left, I was still a Chelsea player because of the eight years I spent here. No offence to the teams I was with during those two years but that’s just the way it is.” – Didier Drogba
The German international is a natural left winger but can also perform on the right flank or done the role of a striker when required. Schurrle moved to Chelsea in 2013 for £18m and has 11 goals in 53 games. The German has been inconsistent, scoring a good goal against Burnley in August, another against Manchester City in September, but otherwise looking slightly jaded by his World Cup exertions. Eden Hazard has owned the left flank for a long time and performed day in and out; on the right, Willian is selected over Schurrle due to the Brazilians immense work rate and pace. If the rumors are true the German might be heading out this January, but still has enough time to prove himself a worthy starting option.
Chelsea winger Mohamed Salah is something of a forgotten man and he needs to do something about it. The Egyptian international joined Chelsea for £11m last January and has scored twice in 16 appearances. Willian has been far more effective on the right and far more in tune with Mourinho’s tactical demands, including covering back. He now faces a tough season, trying to break his way into a team that has gelled well together in the offensive department. The 22-year-old is quick, skilful and can score goals, but Chelsea have all of those traits in abundance. Over the course of last season, Salah completed 82% of his passes and won the majority of his duels; successfully beating his man 53% of the time, winning 58% of his tackles and 50% of his headed duels. He’s clearly a valuable player to have. A decent run of consecutive games might help the Egyptian grab Mourinho’s attention and would perhaps strongly consider a move away if things don’t change.
Mourinho has urged his benched players to raise their levels and prove his first team selection wrong. Yes, it does add balance to the team but, starting the game is what every player wants. For now, they have to make the best out of the League Cup opportunities presented to them and prove themselves worthy of the first team selection.
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Edited By: Ojas Tripathi