Azpilicueta v Cole: Is Mourinho right to bench the England international?

Cole has had to play second fiddle for much of the season at Chelsea.

Jose Mourinho seems to have thrown his support behind Cesar Azpilicueta ahead of Ashley Cole for the right to play at left-back for Chelsea this season.

Though it may have a knock on effect for Cole in his ambitions to be part of Roy Hodgson's squad for the World Cup in Brazil in the summer, Mourinho prefers the right-footed Spaniard ahead of Cole at the moment.

That may change in the next couple of weeks if Mourinho feels the need to freshen up the side with Chelsea firmly in the title race - despite their boss saying they are not candidates - and are tipped to go into the latter stages of this season's Champions League.

Mourinho is quoted by several media outlets after he was asked if Cole could get a run in the side, saying: 'I don't know. I'm very happy with the way Cesar Azpilicueta is performing.'

However is Mourinho making the right decision playing Azpilicueta ahead of the man whose honours at the club include the Premier League, the Champions League and four FA Cups?

Here we have a look at an example of four key area of each of the two players' games, and it is of little surprise that Azpilicueta is keeping Cole out of the squad.

NameTeamPosWon Tackle / appsAppsMins
César Azpilicueta Chelsea DF 2.56 18 1,335
Ashley Cole Chelsea DF 1.92 13 1,104
NameTeamPosInterception Won / appsAppsMins
César Azpilicueta Chelsea DF 1.28 18 1,335
Ashley Cole Chelsea DF 1.23 13 1,104

The two statistics above show that despite being predominantly right footed, Azpilicueta is fulfilling the duties just as well if not better than Ashley Cole. The statistics seem to reflect that he is pretty well positioned and in terms of tackling, opponents may have tried to target him because he is right footed but he has done well enough against them.

NameTeamPosEffective Clearance / appsAppsMins
César Azpilicueta Chelsea DF 4.83 18 1,335
Ashley Cole Chelsea DF 1.54 13 1,104
NameTeamPosDuel Won / appsAppsMins
César Azpilicueta Chelsea DF 5.61 18 1,335
Ashley Cole Chelsea DF 4.15 13 1,104

This is probably a reflection of Azpilicueta being a defender who wants to find a blue shirt on most occasions or get it out of the danger zone, Cole may be more inclined to play a short ball away, whilst the duels seem to be in correlation to the more physical presence the Spaniard has over the Englishman.

Going by these statistics, it is little wonder Mourinho wants to keep him in the side.

image: © thearcticblues

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