During all the drama which transpired at Chelsea in recent weeks, a surprising figure’s come under a hammer.
Cesar Azpilicueta, who has arguably been the Blues’ more consistent performer in recent times, incurred the wrath of supporters and even Antonio Rudiger’s agent after failing to handle the Kepa Arizzabalaga situation in the Carabao Cup final.
Many felt that as captain, the Spaniard should’ve been more assertive of his responsibilities and urged Kepa to go through with the substitution, as Chelsea leaders of the past would surely have done. Indeed, his lack of leadership proved how far the club have fallen since the days of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba.
However, he laid those accusations to rest with a commendable performance against Tottenham Hotspur. The Spaniard led from the front, proving a reliable figure in defence and nullifying Spurs’ unpredictable attack with clever defending. Not only that, he also went forward whenever invited to by his compatriots.
Even before his clever assist which allowed Pedro to run towards scoring the opener, Azpilicueta displayed his creativity, putting in a looping cross in the first half, which eventually fell for Gonzalo Higuain’s shot to strike the bar. He even had a cross strike Ben Davies’ hand later on, which the referee couldn’t see.
With the crucial win, Azpilicueta notched his third assist and helped Chelsea to their 12th clean-sheet this season (stats via Premier League).
The Spaniard’s reaction after the opening goal, where he went down in the ground in a fit of passion and relieve, proves he’s the ideal leader to help restructure Sarri’ Chelsea reign.