This season, a lot has been said about Chelsea’s problems up front, something again evident from Maurizio Sarri’s decision to drop Gonzalo Higuain and deploy Eden Hazard as a false 9 against Liverpool.
Tactically, it was probably just a move the Italian made to make the Blues more solid with Hazard notorious for not tracking back.
That being said, had Higuain been banging in the goals, it is hard to imagine Sarri making such a tactical tweak.
Looking at the bigger picture, though, it is now fair and has been for a while, to say the west London club’s troubles stretch further than the lack of goals coming from their strikers in the Premier League.
Right-back, for example, has become a massive problem, a problem Cesar Azpilicueta has to take the blame for.
Going forward, the 29-year-old is simply not cutting it for his side. To be blunt, he does not look technically good enough to play in that modern-day full-back role under a coach like Sarri.
Too often, Azpilicueta, who is valued at £36 million (by Transfermarkt), hits his first man when attempting to send a cross into the box, while his first touch can also let him down during attacks.
Worst of all, though, the Spain international is no longer consistently winning the sort of 1v1 duels he used to, resulting in him having to pull the shirt of his opponent and commit a silly foul in the process.
This term, much has been said about Marcos Alonso and David Luiz’s struggles in a back four. But the change from a three-man defence to a four-man defence, which has seen Azpilicueta move from central defence to full-back, has impacted the former Marseille man just as much.
Ultimately, with reports (Evening Standard) suggesting that Chelsea are ready to keep Reece James in their squad next season after an impressive campaign out on loan at Wigan, now might be the time for Azpilicueta to make way.
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