The Left Back Position: Azpilicueta vs Filipe Luis
If we look at the last season, Azpilicueta had put in a string of good performances that had made the left back role his. He quickly adapted to the wing, and no one could have guessed he was not a natural left full back. Being comfortable playing down both the flanks, Azpilicueta is an important player for Chelsea and was a guaranteed starter till the last three weeks.
Filipe Luis Kasmirski arrived in the summer transfer window for a sum of £15.8 million. The last three weeks have been the first instance where Luis has got a string of games and has turned in really strong performances. It is not easy to keep Azpilicueta out of the starting line-up but going by the recent performances Filipe Luis might just squeeze in.Lets put some more light by Comparing Azpilicueta and Filipe Luis.
Let us look at the two big games we faced in the last 15 days, Manchester United and Liverpool and analyze their respective performances. While Luis started for the United game, we had Azpi starting for the Liverpool game.
Stats Courtesy: fourfourtwo.com
The first thing that we notice is the stark difference in the number of passes between Luis and Azpilicueta. While Azpilicueta had 21 out of 26 successful passes in the game, Luis had a whopping 43 out of 53. While the accuracy of Luis is not a whole lot better than Azpilicueta, he has attempted twice the number of passes than Azpi, and this is a very important statistic. Luis tends to move the ball around a lot more, and this is very important when we want a quicker gameplay. Looking at the Maribor games, as well as the QPR game, we see that he had 71, 44 and 47 passes respectively. Even when we look at the amount of long passes attempted during the game, Azpi got 1 out 4 right while Luis had 3 out of 5.
When we are looking at building the game from the back and the wings, Luis is a much better option than Azpilicueta.
The second important point that we notice from the stats is how hard Azpilicueta works defensively. He puts in tackles, blocks crosses and closes the attacker down successfully. Azpilicueta had 5 successful clearances in the Liverpool game while Filipe Luis failed to clear the ball even once. Azpilicueta is a brilliant defender and is not afraid of putting in a strong challenge. While Luis can tackle the ball, he has not cleared the ball in either of the Maribor or QPR games. This certainly shows a part of his game where he needs to put some effort on the training ground.
When Chelsea are playing with a tight defense, it is expected of each defender to do everything possible to prevent a shot and thus the consequential goal. Azpilicueta clearly wins this battle as he is much better when it comes to clearing the balls and preventing crosses.
Azpilicueta and Luis have a lot more depth in their game than this, and while both of them are brilliant individually, it is more of a tactical choice for Mourinho. Luis and Azpilicueta are not made in the same mould and provide two different dimensions to Chelsea. The choice of Azpi or Luis is one that Mourinho will make after carefully studying the opposition, but one thing that we have learnt in the last 3 weeks is that the left back position is definitely under contention and a healthy competition will bring out the best in both the players.
Edited By: Ojas Tripathi