By Matt Farr
Football Insider analyses three of the main talking points from Chelsea’s 4-3 win over Watford in the Premier League on Monday.
27-year-old as vital as Hazard
Cesar Azpilicueta is undoubtedly one of the best defenders in the Premier League, and probably Europe. The 27-year-old has been one of the first names on the Chelsea team-sheet for some time, but his performances often slip under the radar. However, Azpilicueta showed against Watford just how much quality he has, and why he should be considered just as vital as attacking sensation Eden Hazard. Traditionally a full-back, the Spaniard has eased into his new role this season as a central defender, and he gave another comfortable, and assured defensive display at Stamford Bridge on Monday. He also capped off the display with a goal, hammering home a fierce strike from the edge of the area to give his side the lead.
Fringe players fail to make case
There was an element of vulnerability to Chelsea’s game with Antonio Conte having made so many changes to his side, but with nothing left to play for in the Premier League, and an important FA Cup Final still to play at the end of the month, the changes were justified. However, while they were part of an entertaining evening, the majority failed to really showcase their talents on what could be their last opportunity for quite some time. The likes of Kenedy, Nathaniel Chalobah and Kurt Zouma have rarely graced the pitch for the first-team this season, and failed to make their case for more regular action ahead of next season. Conte’s regular stars have been formidable this season, but their may be an element of concern over the quality of his second-string outfit in case of any major injury setback. That said, Chelsea will only need one or two new additions this summer, which is sees them in much better condition than their rivals.
Chelsea should find deal for 22-year-old
Given the success of Chelsea’s first-choice defensive trio – Azpilicueta, David Luiz and Gary Cahill – their other options have seen limited game-time this season. That has seen the likes of Kurt Zouma suffer on the sidelines, with the French centre-back needing minutes under his belt to get back to his best following an earlier injury. The 22-year-old missed the first few months of the season with a cruciate ligament injury, only to make his first-team return in an FA Cup clash with Peterborough in January. But his lack of regular action showed against Watford, and he may need a temporary switch away from Stamford Bridge to help him regain his best form. If made available for loan this summer, there should be no shortage of suitors, and it could be of great benefit to both the player, and the club.
In other Chelsea news, here is how the players rated during the win.