It certainly hasn’t been a campaign to remember for Chelsea so far, especially after they steamrolled their way to the league title last term. However, with them currently occupying fourth place in the Premier League, it’s not all bad for the Blues with the strong possibility of Champions League qualification for next season.
This, paired with their FA Cup run, where they find themselves in the quarter-finals, as well as their current European efforts, which see them take on Barcelona over two legs, could make for a very good end to the campaign.
Here are the three stand-out players for Antonio Conte’s side so far this term.
There is absolutely no surprise to see that Real Madrid are monitoring Hazard’s situation with how he has played for Chelsea over the past two seasons. He is having an exceptional campaign and has been the driving force behind his side’s push for the Champions League. Not only have his goalscoring exploits been impressive, his ability to glide past players is second to none and after being deployed as Conte’s lone striker in several matches, even his hold-up play has been proficient.
If it wasn’t for the lack of form throughout the rest of the team, the Belgian would probably be competing against his international teammate and former Blues teammate for the Player of the Season award as Kevin de Bruyne and Mohamed Salah look like the clear favourites. It is imperative that Eden Hazard’s top class form is maintained for the remaining 11 games of the league campaign if he is to spur his side into the positions for Europe’s elite competition.
If someone would have told a 23-year-old N’Golo Kante that in three years’ time he would have two Premier League winners’ medals, they would have been met with a bemused look. However, the reality is that the former Leicester star is one of the World’s best players. He won the PFA Player of the Year and was considered very unlucky not to have a place in the FIFPro Team of the Year. His level of performance hasn’t dipped this term despite losing his midfield partner, Nemanja Matic, to Manchester United in the summer.
There has been plenty of uncertainty as to which of Chelsea’s midfielders should partner Kante with Tiemoue Bakayoko, Cesc Fabregas and Danny Drinkwater all fitting in at some point. The truth is that none of them can replicate the job done by Matic in their title-winning season despite the continued commitment showed by their pint-sized ball winner.
The movement in positions of Azpilicueta from right-back to centre-back has been one of Conte’s best decisions during his time at Stamford Bridge. The Spain international looks at home in the right of a back three and has been having another great season. Like Kante, he has had to deal with changes around him with Davide Zappacosta featuring in the right-wing back position and Antonio Rudiger slotting in at centre-back with the disagreement between Conte and David Luiz. This has led to defensive frailties and mistakes throughout the 27 league matches but Azpilicueta has been a rock in the backline.
While the 28-year-old might not be the best in the air because of his height, he’s brilliant across the ground whether it’s in a foot race or making a tackle. As a top-flight attacker, you certainly wouldn’t want to be coming up against Cesar Azpilicueta, especially not this season because of his consistency and desire to be the first man to every ball.