What is Chelsea’s Best XI?
Posted by Featured Articles | Published on March 5, 2016
When a manager joins their new club, one of the first challenges they have to face is finding their best starting XI with the players they have at their disposal. The likely arrival of Antonio Conte means that he too will have to find his best XI at Chelsea in the close future. There is and will be contrasting opinions and disagreements on who the best players at Chelsea are and who the new man should start week in week out, with it being likely that players will be leaving this summer and hopefully players joining the club too.
It’s fair to say that this Premier League season has been one of our worst in recent times, with Chelsea nowhere near a top 4 finish and Mourinho being sacked half way through the campaign it’s definitely been a season to forget. However, things seem to be on the up as we’re currently on a 13 game unbeaten streak in the League, Hiddink is doing a great job once again.
With this change of form and Hiddink giving some players the chances they deserve, this is the starting XI that I think is our best and should be built around next season by whoever is in charge.
Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois
With Begovic being the only other experienced keeper on our books, this obviously isn’t a hard decision. Thibaut, since returning to the club after his 3-year loan spell at Atletico Madrid in the 2013/14 season, has been our number one goalkeeper. In his first season at Chelsea, he was keeping Petr Cech out of the starting line-up which eventually resulted in Petr leaving to our rivals, Arsenal. Courtois also is the starting goalkeeper for the Belgian National Team and has picked up 33 international caps for The Red Devils at the young age of 23. In my opinion, there is no better goalkeeper in the Premier League than our 6 foot 6 Belgian, and he is up there with one of the best goalkeepers in the World.
Right-Back: César Azpilicueta
Since making his debut on the 25th September 2012 against Wolves in the League Cup, César has made a name for himself at Chelsea. Under Mourinho, Azpilicueta began to appear regularly in the Left-Back position, taking the place of Chelsea and Arsenal legend Ashley Cole. Mourinho said when speaking about him that: “Azpilicueta is the kind of player I like a lot. I think a team with 11 Azpilicuetas would probably win the competition (Champions League) because football is not just about pure talent”. This comment, from arguably one of the best managers in the world, provides me with enough reasoning to pick the 26-year old Spaniard in my best starting XI.
Centre-Back: Kurt Zouma
Kurt Happy Zouma. What more is there to say? The 21-year old French defender is already loved by everyone involved in the Club, and, when fit, now starts most games for Chelsea. Kurt is likely to become one of the best central defenders in the world and I can see no reason why he should not be starting for The Blues. Sadly, Zouma recently picked up an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament and is expected to be on the side-lines for around 6 months. Hopefully he manages to fully recover and come back as soon as possible, as he is a key player in our defence.
Centre-Back: Gary Cahill
This is one of the weakest positions in our team. John Terry is now 35 and not really able to play week in week out, and our only other senior central defender being Cahill, so I had no other choice than to pick Gary. To be fair, Ivanovic has recently been doing a good job at the centre of our defence since Zouma’s injury, but Branislav is one of our players that I feel needs to leave the club in the coming transfer window.
Left-Back: Baba Rahman
Baba signed for us in August 2015 for around £14 million and has struggled to break into the first team so far. Last season, in the Bundesliga, whilst playing for Augsburg, Baba made the most tackles in the league, more than any other player in the Bundesliga that season, with 108 tackles and an 83% successful tackle rate. Stats like these is what attracted Chelsea to Baba Rahman, but unfortunately he hasn’t had much of a chance to prove his ability to English football yet. But when he has played I think he has showed his qualities of pace and strength up and down the left side of the pitch, something that I think would be a great addition to any Chelsea starting XI.
Centre Defensive Midfielder: John Obi Mikel
This is an interesting one. Before this season many people would have completely ruled out John Obi Mikel from the starting line-up, but since Hiddink’s appointment, Mikel has been a regular starter in the Pivot. With Matic hugely underperforming this season compared to last, we’ve needed someone to fill the gap his poor form has left in the side and Mikel has been that man. The Nigerian has been at the club since 2006 and I’m sure he will be enjoying being in the starting line-up regularly for the first time in a while. However, bear in mind that if I was writing this last season I would have most likely picked Matic over Mikel.
Centre Midfielder: Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Ruben made his senior debut for Chelsea on the 10th of December 2014, coming on for the last 7 minutes in a Champions League group match against Sporting Lisbon. Since this moment, RLC has impressed everyone involved with the club and on the 29th of December signed a new 5-year contract at the club; something every Chelsea fan was happy to hear. Ruben has an extremely bright future and I would love to see him starting regularly in the first team.
Right Midfielder: Willian Borges da Silva
Willian, before this season, was criticised by many for his lack of goals and assists. It was fair to say that, even though he would get himself up and down the pitch constantly when he played, the Brazilian needed Goals and Assists to give proof for his good performances. However, this season has been a completely different story. Willian has picked himself up 9 goals, 5 assists and created 80 chances in the Premier League and Champions League combined so far. He was also named by UEFA as one of the top 11 players of the Champions’ League group stage this season.
Centre Attacking Midfielder: Cesc Fàbregas
The ex-Arsenal Spaniard has been great since joining the club from FC Barcelona in the summer of 2014. Last season he had the most assists in the league, with an impressive 18 and he also created the second most chances in the league, with 95. This season, like most Chelsea players, he started off slowly, but once again since Hiddink’s appointment he has been brilliant for The Blues. I feel he plays better in this position and offers more to the team, whereas player further back gives him less of an influence.
Left Midfielder: Eden Hazard
There is no denying this season has not been Hazard’s best by a mile. He’s struggled to perform and has endured a 2,358-minute scoreless run across 30 matches, which he finally broke on the 31st of January against MK Dons in the FA Cup. It seems Hazard is slowly starting to perform to a higher level but he is still nowhere near the level of last season. Taking all of this into consideration, Hazard is still a top player and arguably still World Class. Last season shows exactly what he can do and hopefully he will find his way back to performing this was sooner rather than later.
Striker: Diego Costa
Our rowdy Spaniard had a dodgy start to the season under Mourinho, once again like most of our players, but his performances have taken a change for the better since Hiddink re-joined the club. Diego is currently on 11 goals this season in the Premier League and has also picked himself up 5 assists. Overall, since joining the club in the summer of 2014, Costa has been a goal scoring machine for Chelsea and is a key player in our team.
With this being the XI that I feel is our best, there are a few players that I would also like to see play regularly for Chelsea. Bertrand Traoré is one of these. The Burkina Faso international has not played a huge amount of games for the club but when he has, he’s scored some great goals. This going no further than his recent performance against Stoke at the Bridge, where he scored with a brilliant strike from outside the box; following a sharp turn and dart forward.
Two more players that I would like to see play frequently are the two Brazilians Alexandre Pato and Kenedy. Starting with Pato, he joined us on loan in January and has only just made it onto the subs bench due to injury. His career brilliantly in Milan with AC Milan, but it went down a notch when he returned to Brazil to play for Corinthians. With this in mind, I hope that he can collect a few starts for Chelsea and maybe even score a few goals. Secondly, Kenedy. The 20-year old Brazilian, who signed for us in the summer hasn’t played many games for The Blues but like Traoré, when he has played, he’s been brilliant. Recently starting at Left-Back against Norwich, he scored the quickest goal of the season so far with a left-footed strike after only 39 seconds.
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