For all the attacking talent on show at Chelsea, Cesar Azpilicueta could prove to be a linchpin in the quest for victory over Aston Villa on Saturday (5.30pm).
Look around the Blues dressing room and there are goals firing in from all directions.
Romelu Lukaku certainly leads the charge but Timo Werner has also been known to ripple the opposition’s net on occasion.
Kai Havertz can be a threat in the box; Jorginho is pretty nifty from the penalty spot (although not so much recently).
When Marcos Alonso hits a ball, it certainly stays hit. The same can be said for Reece James.
Villa will have undoubtedly done their homework on Tuchel’s attacking outlets.
However, they may not be aware of one back door Chelsea could look to exploit.
Leading by example
When you think of Cesar Azpilicueta, words such as captain, leader, organised, consistent, committed and efficient spring to mind.
But not flair, entertainment, celebrations, flicks, tricks and other vocabulary typically associated with a player who roams the upper echelons of the field.
Yet, the Spanish skipper would argue that when he faces the Villains, he becomes the hero in a creative sense.
During his career, Azpilicueta has played Villa 11 times, all in the Premier League.
Of those 11 outings, he has provided six assists, more than the defender has managed against any team he’s faced in his career.
The 32-year-old created two goals at Villa Park in June 2020, the first fixture back after the shackles of covid were released.
If he plays, Azpilicueta will certainly want to build on his half-dozen tally.
He’s also something of a lucky charm when Chelsea take on their claret-and-blue rivals.
In those 11 games, the £7m (Guardian) arrival from Marseille has only been on the losing side twice, the most recent arriving on the last day of last season.
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