Stats: Could this man keep Cesar Azpilicueta out of the Chelsea side?


Branislav Ivanovic's form could provide Jose Mourinho with yet another selection headache.

The Serb produced a fine performance in Chelsea's Premier League opener at Burnley, scoring once and contributing heavily going forward.

And there could be a man at risk of losing his place should Ivanovic continue to play as he is.

Indeed, Cesar Azpilicueta started on the left-hand side for the Blues at Turf Moor - largely because Jose Mourinho had declared his intentions to start the fittest possible starting XI.

In the long term, one would expect Filipe Luis to frequent the left-back spot for Chelsea, leaving Azpilicueta with the right-back position as his best chance to cement a regular place in the side.

Defensively, he would be the right pick - just about.

  TeamPosAerial Duels WonInterceptions WonTackles WonEffective ClearancesAppsMins
César Azpilicueta Chelsea DF 2 2 3 7 1 90
Branislav Ivanovic Chelsea DF 1 2 3 1 1 90

As Opta stats show, the Spaniard marginally shaded 30-year-old Ivanovic, winning one more aerial duel and making six more clearances.

The likelihood, of course, is that all three will get their fair share of game time this season, anyway. After all, Ivanovic can also play at centre-back, while Azpilicueta will certainly have plenty of scope to deputise for Luis.

But, if Mourinho were to pick his first-choice right-back right now, it might just be Ivanovic.

  TeamPosGoalsDribbles WonTouchesAccurate PassesSuccessful Final-Third PassesAppsMins
Branislav Ivanovic Chelsea DF 1 1 88 50 16 1 90
César Azpilicueta Chelsea DF 0 0 88 47 8 1 90

And, as the stats show, that choice would be made based on the Serb's ability going forward.

Indeed, against Burnley, Ivanovic scored once and was also involved in Chelsea's other goals. Attack-wise, the right-back was superb for the Blues.

He only won one more dribble than Azpilicueta and took exactly the same amount of touches as the 24-year-old but, crucially, he made twice as many successful final-third passes.

It is that cutting edge that could earn Ivanovic a regular slot within Mourinho's back four, despite the fact that these statistics are based on just the one game.

As the Chelsea boss stated about Thibaut Courtois's selection ahead of Petr Cech, the Portuguese coach is taking things on a game-by-game basis.

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