Sky Sports pundit Alan Smith sang the praises of the Chelsea backline after their impressive show of dominance against Arsenal, claiming: ‘Chelsea’s back four is the best defence in the Premier League by quite some distance.’
The 51-year-old added: ‘Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, John Terry and Cesar Azpilicueta will neither shirk a scrap or ignore their defensive duties. In short, each perfectly conforms to the image of a proper defender happy, if necessary, to confine themselves to the gritty graft.’
The statement by Smith is certainly one that is hard to disagree with, and one look at the Premier League table shows why.
The Blues are already five points clear at the top, with just seven games gone, and have amassed an impressive goal difference of +14.
Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard may have been figures cited as the reason behind that fantastic achievement, but the defence deserves a large portion of the credit too. Chelsea have conceded the joint second fewest goals in the Premier League so far – 7 – and can only be bettered by an impressive Southampton that are the only side in the division to concede less than a goal a game, with five.
Building on his initial point, Smith focused on the impressive Cesar Azpilicueta and his role in the Chelsea win.
‘Azpilicueta was last week described by his manager as a fantastic professional, awarded a new contract by Mourinho because he didn’t want to lose him. The Spaniard, having seen off Ashley Cole, is now keeping new signing Filipe Luis out of the side. Not bad when you remember he is a right-back.
‘And on his 100th Chelsea appearance, the 25-year-old practically bullied a dreadfully poor Mesut Ozil, constantly reacting quicker and showing more strength.’
The performance by the young Spaniard is in no doubts; he was magnificent.
Ozil has constantly been under the spotlight since his £42.5 million signing from Real Madrid. However, to suggest he is a bad player actually takes away a lot of credit from the Chelsea full-back.
Ozil, fresh from his World Cup win in Brazil, is still one of the most dangerous footballers in the world, especially when given time on the ball, but Azpilicueta simply starved him of that and killed his impact on the game.
A fantastic performance from a defender that seems to get better and better with each and every game.