Chelsea are at the top of the Premier League table because they’re the best ‘team’ in the division, in the collective sense of the word.
Indeed, whilst Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola are still managing works in progress at Manchester United and Manchester City, Antonio Conte was the quickest to decide his strongest set-up, his best formation and his most fluid team.
No doubt, every Blues player has contributed this season – evident enough through them having eleven different goalscorers already in the top flight – but even amid the most equal of teams, some players inevitably prove themselves to be more important than others.
With that in mind, we recently asked Chelsea fans to vote for who has become the club’s most important player under Conte, and the results were a little surprising – with top scorer and star striker Diego Costa ranking a lowly tenth.
Now that bombshell’s out of the way, he’s a rundown of who made the top three…
In stark contrast to his first Chelsea spell, David Luiz has been rock-solid at the back for the Blues this season, playing a pivotal role in them amassing the healthiest goals conceded record in the Premier League. Of course, every Chelsea star has played their part but Luiz remains a key influence – for starters, he’s by far the Blues’ best option at the heart of their three-man defence, athletic enough to sweep behind and confident enough on the ball to maraud into midfield. It could well be argued that Antonio Conte’s switch to 3-4-3 wouldn’t have been possible without the Brazilian returning to Stamford Bridge.
N’Golo Kante is well on course to become the first Premier League player to win consecutive titles with different clubs and much like Luiz, Chelsea’s 3-4-3 formation probably wouldn’t be possible without the Frenchman at the heart of midfield. Indeed, it’s his relentless stamina, energy and defensive protection that allows the Blues to line up with just two in the engine room, whilst he’s also provided great dynamism on the counter-attack. Kante could well be the summer signing that wins Chelsea the title this season.
Perhaps it’s inevitable Eden Hazard topped our poll. Whilst the ability to operate effectively as a team has been the predominant source of Chelsea’s rise up the league table, the Belgium international is still the man who provides the cutting edge – the moments of individual brilliance to win games. He’s averaged the most created chances, shots at goal and dribbles-per-match of any Blues player this term, whilst weighing in with ten goals and three assists.
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