Cesar Azpilicueta

BenjaminWills’Blog Premier League Team of the Season so far (2014/15)

The Premier League always offers drama, excitement, and talking points, and the 2014/15 season has not failed to disappoint so far. Here are the 11 men who have caught the eye of BenjaminWills’Blog from August to December.

Goalkeeper: David De Gea (Manchester United)

Spain international De Gea has really made an impact in English football after overcoming a stuttering debut season in 2011/12 and is considered by many to be one of, if not the, best Goalkeeper in the Premier League.

De Gea has managed six clean sheets this season so far despite playing behind a much talked about inexperienced Manchester United defence that has included the likes of Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair at centre back as well as winger Ashley Young as a makeshift wing-back.

He has made a string of impressive stops, most notably from Bryan Oviedo against Everton in the dying stages to keep it at 2-1 and in the home clash with Liverpool where Raheem Sterling looked certain to score.

Saving from Private Bryan: De Gea keeps out Oviedo

Saving from Private Bryan: De Gea keeps out Oviedo

Honourable Mention(s): Robert Green (QPR) who has made the most saves so far this season with 59 and Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea) who has kept the most clean sheets (Seven) and least goals conceded (14).

Right Back: Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton)

Southampton have surprised many this campaign, spending a large section of the latter end of 2014 in the top four despite losing five first teamers and their manager in the summer.

The Saints have conceded just 15 goals in their 19 games with season with only leaders Chelsea conceding less (14) with Clyne part of an impressive foursome that also features Jose Fonte, Toby Alderweireld and Ryan Bertrand.

Clyne is the most proficient tackler in the league with 48 successes when attempting to win the ball and his quality displays were rewarded with his full England debut against Slovenia in November.

Clyne-ing up the pecking order: England may have found their right-back.

Clyne-ing up the pecking order: England may have found their right-back.

Honourable Mention(s): Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City) and Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea).

Centre Back: John Terry (Chelsea)

Many have compared the current Chelsea team to that of 2004/05 where they romped to the title with a record 95 points.

One of the few surviving members of that side is captain John Terry who, if you go by stats, is performing even better than he did 10 years ago.

He has won a higher percentage of his tackles, more of his duels, and conceded less fouls. To quote a famous Chelsea banner; “Captain. Leader. Legend”.

Better at 34 than 24? John Terry is in fine form.

Better at 34 than 24? John Terry is in fine form.

Centre Back: Toby Alderweireld (Southampton)

Tobias Albertine Maurits Alderweireld, or “Toby”, to his friends, Alderweireld has been the cement in the heart of the Saints’ defence with partner Fonte while Bertrand and the previously mentioned Clyne are doing the business on the flanks.

Alderweireld swapped the Spanish capital for the South Coast in September to get more first team football, he is getting it, and his performances make you wonder why he has not had a look in at Vicente Calderon.

The Belgian defender has won 17 tackles, losing just 12, won 22 aerial duels, made 89 clearances while comitting zero defensive errors. His loan at St.Mary’s could well be made permanent in the near future.

TA

To-by or not To-by: Will Southampton make his loan deal permanent next Summer?

Honourable Mention(s): Winston Reid (West Ham) and Jose Fonte (Southampton).

Left Back: Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)

Chelsea fans’ Player of the Year last year Azpilicueta is shining again this term, although he is naturally a right back, “Dave” has taken to the other side like a duck to water.

So much so that even Champions League runner up Felipe Luis has failed to dislodge his spot in the Chelsea 11.

He has made great strides since his under the radar £7 million arrival from Marseille in August 2012 and has proven to be a fine replacement for Ashley Cole.

Just call me Dave: Azpilicueta has faultlessly made the transition from right to left back.

Just call me Dave: Azpilicueta has faultlessly made the transition from right to left back.

Honourable Mention(s): Aaron Cresswell (West Ham), Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal), Ashley Young (Manchester United) and Ryan Bertrand (Southampton).

Right Midfield: Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)

It is a surprise to no-one how much of an impact Alexis has made on the Premier League in such a short space of time.

The Chilean terror arrived in North London from Barcelona for £35 million five months ago on the back of a successful World Cup, scoring two goals in four games as Chile reached the last 16 ahead of holders Spain in Group B.

And he made an immediate impression on Gunners fans, helping his new team to a 3-0 win over Champions Manchester City in the Community shield on his debut and soon started scoring goals. 10 of them in fact, in 18 games, making him the fourth top scorer so far.

Agent of Shield: Sanchez has been Arsenal's Superhero.

Agent of Shield: Sanchez has been Arsenal’s Superhero this season.

Honourable Mention(s): Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

Centre Midfield: Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea)

Arguably the player of the season so far, Cesc Fabregas’ form on his return to the Premier League has picked up from when he departed Chelsea’s London rivals Arsenal in 2011.

Back then he had already established himself as the sixth best assister in Premier League history with 71 in eight years but has leap-frogged former Arsenal team mate Thierry Henry into fifth since his move to the West side of the capital.

Fabregas has contributed 13 assists in his 18 games in a Blue shirt, with two goals to his name as well. He is Chelsea’s most influential player in the final third by a mile.

Absolutely Fab-ulous: Fabregas is arguably the Player of the Season so far.

Absolutely Fab-ulous: Fabregas is arguably the Player of the Season so far.

Centre Midfield: Nemanja Matic (Chelsea)

While the aforementioned Fabregas is the go to guy to put the finishing touches to Chelsea’s attacking play, Nemanja Matic is very much the man who gets things started.

Fabregas, Eden Hazard and Diego Costa are often the subject of the plaudits to the 41 goals the Blues have scored this season (joint highest in the league with Manchester City), Matic has been the driving force behind them.

BenjaminWills’Blog has waxed lyrical about Matic in the past and it appears this season the imposing Serbia anchor man is getting the praise he so truly deserves.

Comeback King: Matic has become Chelsea's most important player three years after his exile.

Comeback King: Matic has become Chelsea’s most important player three years after his exile.

Honourable Mention(s): Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea), Alex Song (West Ham), Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) and Michael Carrick (Manchester United).

Left Midfield: Stewart Downing (West Ham)

If there is one player from this side that is best defined as the “most improved” then Stewart Downing is that player.

The revitalised England winger has scored four goals, assisted six and created 54 chances already this campaign while he only managed three goals, two assists and created just 62 chances throughout the whole of last season.

In the first half of 2014/15, he has set up more goals than the heavily praised David Silva who has just two assists to his name and created 31 chances with Downing also boasting more key passes (48) to Silva’s 29.

It is a completely different Downing to the one who scored zero goals and fashioned zero assists in the 2011/12 season for Liverpool.

Happy Hammer: Stewart Downing is back to his best.

Happy Hammer: Stewart Downing is back to his best.

Honourable Mention(s): David Silva (Manchester City)

Striker: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

The Premiership’s top marksman at the halfway stage is a deadly diminutive forward that goes by the name of Sergio Aguero.

A World Cup runner up in July, Aguero has bounced back from that bitter disappointment and has rediscovered his scoring boots after he failed to find the back of the net in Brazil.

He is having no such problem domestically though, scoring 14 goals and is eight clear of City’s next top scorer Silva. It says a lot about Aguero that he is had his injury issues this season but is still top of the league’s goal scoring charts.

Argentine Assasion: Aguero is in hot form as ever.

Argentine Assasion: Aguero is in hot form as ever.

Striker: Diego Costa (Chelsea)

Costa arrived on English soil to more than a few doubters to his ability, but, he has, quite literally, pushed all of that to one side.

The imposing Brazilian-born Spaniard, 25, has bulldozed his way past most Premier League defences and notched 13 goals from 54 shots in the process as Chelsea have stormed to the summit.

That tally is one less than Aguero with 14 (one came from the penalty spot) while the little Argentine needed 22 more shots than his fellow former Atletico star striker.

Deadly Diego: At long last Chelsea have found a striker they can rely on.

Deadly Diego: At long last Chelsea have found a striker they can rely on.

Honourable Mention(s): Charlie Austin (QPR) and Graziano Pelle (Southampton)

Here is BenjaminWills’Blog Team of the Season so far in graphic form then:

Graphic

TOTS graphic provided by @YidNick

Chelsea 6-0 Maribor (Remy ’13, Drogba pen ’23, Terry ’31, Viler OG ’54, Hazard pen ’77, ’90)

Chelsea strolled to an emphatic 6-0 win over Slovenian champions Maribor to remain top of group G after three matches.

Goals from Loic Remy, John Terry, an own goal by Mitja Vila and two penalties from Didier Drogba and Eden Hazard secured the three points for the Blues at Stamford Bridge in what was a comfortable night for the Premier League leaders.

Remy opened the scoring 13 minutes in when he cut inside a Maribor defender and buried a shot into the bottom right corner past Jasmin Handanovic.

The France International had to be replaced soon after though due to an injury he suffered during the celebration of his second goal for Chelsea.

His replacement Drogba made it 2-0 to the hosts after 23 minutes with a penalty following Ales Mertelj’s handball.

It was three nine minutes later when captain Terry slid in to convert Cesc Fabregas’ low cross across the face of goal.

Number four came on 54 minutes through a Vila own goal, diverting the ball into his own net from Eden Hazard’s cutback.

The fifth was a second penalty coming 13 minutes before the end, Hazard calmly sending Handanovic the wrong way but sending his team very much the right way.

Maribor did have the opportunity for a consolation with a penalty of their own midway through the second half when Agin Ibraimi was brought down by Nemanja Matic in the box but the Maribor midfielder who took the spot kick himself was denied by the post.

Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry, Luis, Fabregas (Ake ’60), Matic, Oscar (Solanke ’73), Hazard, Willian, Remy (Drogba ’16)

Subs not used: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Salah

Maribor: Handanovic, Suler, Filipovic, Mejac, Tavares (Mendy ’72), Ibraimi (Zahovic ’68), Rajcevic, Viler (Vrsic ’57), Stojanovic, Bohar, Mertelj

Subs not used: Cotman, Ndiaye, Sallalich, Arghus

Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal

Chelsea ended a high tempered London derby triumphant over Arsenal, winning 2-0 at Stamford Bridge thanks to goals from Eden Hazard and Diego Costa.

Costa sealed the three points 12 minutes before the end when he lobbed Wojciech Szczesny after being set up by a delicious Cesc Fabregas pass that beat the Arsenal defence all ends up.

Hazard opened the scoring for the West Londoners when his run where he dribbled past three despairing defenders culminated in Laurent Koscielny bringing down the Belgian in the box and the defender maybe should have been shown his marching orders.

23-year-old Hazard stepped up himself and slotted it past Szczesny with 27 minutes played.

Events off the pitch were the main talking points of the first half however with managers Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger engaging in a touchline spat as a result of a crunching Gary Cahill challenge on Alexis Sanchez.

Wenger was of the opinion Cahill should have seen red for his foul and, after some wind up tactics from his adversary Mourinho, pushed the Portuguese coach in the chest.

Calum Chambers was arguably fortunate to stay on the pitch as well, not picking up a second yellow card for pulling down Andre Schurrle.

Eden Hazard opens the scoring from the spot.

Eden Hazard opens the scoring from the spot.

Arsenal also had reason to feel adjudged by referee Martin Atkinson when Jack Wilshere’s shot was blocked by the hand of ex Gunner Fabregas.

Chelsea were worthy winners but an early injury to Thibaut Courtois provided a minor bleak point to their victory. He was replaced by Petr Cech 24 minutes in.

Chelsea: Courtois (Cech ’24) Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Matic, Fabregas, Schurrle (Mikel ’69), Oscar (Willian ’87), Hazard, Diego Costa

Subs not used: Zouma, Filipe Luis, Salah, Remy

Arsenal: Szczesny, Chambers, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Wilshere (Rosicky ’83), Flamini, Cazorla (Oxlade-Chamberlain ’69), Ozil, Alexis, Welbeck

Subs not used: Martinez, Monreal, Coquelin, Campbell, Podolski

Burnley 1-3 Chelsea

A ruthless Chelsea tore apart Burnley at Turf Moor after Scott Arfield gave Jose Mourinho’s side an early scare.

Debutant Diego Costa, World Cup winner Andre Schurrle and Branislav Ivanovic were on the score sheet for the West Londoners.

Cesc Fabregas put in a man of the match performance on his return to the Premier League, contributing two assists for his new club.

It was Burnley who took the lead though when Scott Arfield scored an exquisite volley, chesting down Matthew Taylor’s cross, letting the ball bounce and firing past Thibaut Courtois after 13 minutes.

Chelsea responded in the perfect fashion, equalizing four minutes later when Costa seized on a deflected low Ivanovic cross and smashed home first time with his weaker left foot for 1-1.

Dream debut for Diego: Costa levels in Burnley

Dream debut for Diego: Costa levels in Burnley

Schurrle completed the quick-fire comeback three minutes after when he tucked in from a tight angle after a 20 pass plus move.

The par excellence was Fabregas’ majestic pass from Ivanovic’s cross. A disguised shot that turned into a delicate assist on the volley – a real tour de force.

Ivanovic effectedly sealed the game when he broke free of his marker to turn in Fabregas’ corner ten minutes before the break.

There was one minor sour note to Chelsea’s first half of the season however, Costa recieved a booking for simulation when he went down in the box, tripping over Tom Heaton’s hand as he tried to round the former Cardiff ‘keeper.

Newly promoted side Burnley struggled to break Chelsea down in the second half, Arfield producing their best opportunity, a curler, that would have reduced the deficit if it wasn’t for a world class save by Courtois, tipping it out for a corner at full strength.

Jose Mourinho’s dominant side opted not to create any opportunities either and were content the 1-3 scoreline.

Travelling Chelsea supporters were treated to a late cameo from returning hero Didier Drogba when he replaced Eden Hazard six minutes from time.

Burnley: Heaton, Trippier, Shackell, Duff, Mee, Arfield, Jones, Marney, Taylor (Kightly ’70), Ings (Sordell ’82), Jutkiewicz (Barnes ’70)

Subs not used: Gilks, Dummigan, Long, Wallace

Chelsea: Courtois, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Fabregas, Matic, Schurrle (Willian ’78), Oscar (Mikel ’82), Hazard (Drogba ’84) Costa

Subs not used: Cech, Zouma, Filipe Luis, Torres

Man of the match: Cesc Fabregas