By golly, we’ve gone and done it. Two players in the bag. Only four weeks until the season starts. Think we have time to get another two in. Links with Bellotti and Auba are lovely, but we do already have a world class striker playing for us.
Defensively we have lost Ivanovic, Terry and Ake this year with Zouma likely to follow out of the door this week, to my home town no less. Look forward to seeing him Up Hanley shopping! Anyway, what was already a defence that needed strengthening is now one in desperate need of reinforcements, despite the promising signing of Rudiger.
Our rock, whether playing right back, left back or as part of three at the back. He has been called the best natural defender in the league, by Gary Neville no less, and you’d be hard pushed to find one better. Fantastic in one on one duels, he can go forward well, able to deliver with either right or left foot. The change to three at the back has seen Azpi advance even more when trying to break teams down. Moses pushing on along with Kante down the inside right has left space for Azpi to push up and make a difference, see Palace away. The only slight issue, and one that teams have tried to exploit, is his lack of height at the far post. United briefly tried it at the Bridge in October before we smashed them but Tottenham had more luck. Both Delle Alli goals came from balls just inside the right back position and both were due to Alli out jumping Azpi. If there is one small bit of improvement to be made, maybe tuck Moses in more when the ball is wide right, to give Azpi extra support.
Much derided on his return to Chelsea, he has shown himself to be one of the best defenders in the league, possibly Europe, when used properly. He isn’t disciplined enough to play as part of two central defenders which is why he was often pushed into midfield. The attacking sweeper TTL exposition he has taken up is perfect for him. It allows him to be aggressive when challenging for balls without leaving gaps behind him. It also allows him to step forward when necessary for the same reason. The extra responsibility handed to Luiz by Conte has worked perfectly. Though not the captain, he has acted as such, constantly marshalling Cahill and Azpi into position. Whilst there may be a small drop in performance this next season, there is no reason why last season can’t become the norm. Oh, and he played much of it injured! Our next captain for me, and a big favourite of Roman.
Much derided by me, on account mainly of us being able to sign better players. He certainly tries hard and his passion and commitment can’t be denied, he just isn’t quite good enough. Able to raise his game when playing with better players, he isn’t one who can raise others around him, as his performances in an England shirt show. Good in the air and capable of scoring crucial goals, by no means should we write him off, but we should certainly be considering whether he is a starter next season, especially with the arrival of Rudiger. Surely we can’t drop Luiz or Azpi, and don’t push Azpi wide right!!
Our new recruit. According to sources in Italy and those in the know, Rudi is perfect for Conte, able of playing either side of Luiz as well as right wing back, he can fill a number of roles. Good in the air and blessed with lots of pace and natural physical ability, improving his defensive nous under Conte should make the £34m spent on him an absolute bargain. A German international and ConfedCupo winner, he has experience now of winnng trophies and should get more of that in the coming years. Hopefully he gets a good chance to show what he can do, though he may not start the season, he will certainly get a chance soon to prove his worth.
Midfielders are next!