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England centre half performance the only positive for Chelsea

English defender Gary Cahill’s performance was one of a few positives to come from Chelsea’s 2-1 extra time defeat at Sunderland

The ex-Bolton defender, 27, has been a regular for Chelsea in the Premier League this season and has been one of Jose Mourinho’s most consistent performers. The Blue’s defender has also been in solid form for the national side, establishing himself as arguably England’s best centre back.

The match against Sunderland seemed to epitomize what used to be a typical Chelsea away performance. Not particularly fluid or highly creative, nevertheless Chelsea were ticking along nicely and up until the last 5 minutes of the match they were in cruise control, with Gary Cahill patrolling the back line and handling the strong Jozy Altidore with relative ease.

Cahill managed to make 3 interceptions, 10 effective clearances, an impressive 86% pass success rate and 2 key tackles all of which completely outshone his fellow defenders. In fact, had Azpilicueta not gone off with a bad looking knee injury, Cahill and Chelsea would probably be on their way back down to London celebrating reaching the semi-final of the cup. Essien, probably not the most solid of right backs, was out of position and left oceans of room between himself and his fellow center backs.

Sunderland’s equalizer came as a shock as they had not been threatening at all. The goal completely shifted the momentum in the Black Cat’s favor and Fabio Borini once again capitalized on the space between Essien and his center half, finding himself with only the goalkeeper to beat; however, he was too slow as Cahill came back racing back and put in a key goal saving block to deny the former Chelsea man what would have been a dramatic winner.

It is these sorts of dogged performances in which has made Cahill a regular for the England squad, and Roy Hodgson will need his man to continue to keep his consistency going into Brazil next summer.

Other than Cahill, Jose Mourinho will have a selection headache problem going into Monday night’s top of the table clash with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. With Azpilicueta injured, does this mean Ashley Cole is back into contention to face his former club? And who will partner Gary Cahill at the back given David Luiz’s rather lackluster performance tonight?

What did you make of Cahill’s performance?

image: © Ben Sutherland

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