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Battle Within the Bridge 1.0: Azpilicueta vs Luis and the Battle for LB

Filipe Luis arrived at Chelsea in this current transfer market from Atletico Madrid to supposedly be Chelsea’s number one left back after Ashley Cole’s departure, but that did not happen. What actually happened was that Cesar ‘Dave’ Azpilicueta retained his spot in Jose Mourinho’s starting XI as a left back. Jose Mourinho opted for stability, and so the defense stayed the same. Filipe was the best left back in spain last season and arguably the best in the world. Meanwhile Azpilicueta is not even a left back by trait nor is he left footed. Many thought that because of these two reasons Luis would just walk straight into the blues starting lineup just like Costa and Fabregas. So what governs this battle for LB? What is keeping Luis out of the lineup and what is keeping Dave in it?

1) Luis had a lacklustre pre-season

Luis did not play a full 90 minutes in any of the pre-season matches. Given he was still getting used to playing with a new team this is nothing out of the norm for a new signing but one would expect more out of one of the top left backs in the world. Luis, alongside not being used to his team-mates yet, was not fully match fit after being on a summer break. In the Premier League opener vs Burnley Azpilicueta was chosen ahead of him and some fans on twitter thought that it was for at least one of three reason: A) Mourinho will keep the same defence from last year until proven ineffective, B) Luis is not yet match fit, C) Ivanovic and Azpilicueta are Mourinho favorites and Luis is not a Mourinho favorite, yet.

2) Azpilcueta has a tremendous work rate

Jose Mourinho once said:

“Azpilicueta is the kind of player I like a lot. I think a team with 11 Azpilicueta’s probably could win the competition because football is not just about the pure talent. Football is also about character and personality and Azpilicueta has all those traces of a winning personality.”

Mourinho obviously adores Azpilicueta, not only for his talent but for his work rate as well. There were some games last season in which Azpilicueta was a pest for the other team. He tackles, runs, pushes, and does anything else required to win. A quality that is common amongst any Jose Mourinho squad. He has made seven clearances, two interceptions, made eight successful tackles, and created one goal scoring opportunity. Meanwhile the Brazilian still has to prove his worth to the ‘Special One’.

3) Branislav Ivanovic has to play

Many Chelsea fans may disagree with this but Ivanovic is massively underrated. He is a rock in defense, literally, and nobody knows how he does it, but he scores goals and gets assists. For originally being a centre back, Ivanovic is quite good at finishing as well. In pre-season Mourinho even put him on as a third striker for crying out loud. That is how much Mourinho values the monster of a man that is Ivanovic. So far this season in two games the Serbian has scored once and created three goal scoring opportunities, one which lead to a goal after his shot/cross hit the post. Ivanovic has a knack for scoring important goals. He scored the winner vs City at the Etihad with a left footed blast, the winner vs Benfica in the Europa league final, and the most important of all: the goal which sent Chelsea through to the Champions League quarter-finals. After having gone done 4-1 to Napoli at in Naples, Chelsea leveled it to 4-4 in the home leg and Ivanovic scored the extra time winner to win the game. In summary, Ivanovic is the starting right back, unless Cahill or Terry get injured and he has to fill in in the centre, he will play.

Conclusion: As long as Azpilicueta keeps up his amazing form and Ivanovic does not die or get injured then Luis could be on the bench until Chelsea either get humiliated, play terrible defensively, or just simply lose. Luis is still an amazing player and he will most likely get a chance either tomorrow vs Everton or in a Cup match, be it a Capital One Cup match or just the FA Cup. What he must then do is take advantage of it to convince Mourinho he has the ability to do the job.


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