Manchester City have humbled many teams in the Premier League this season, but Chelsea seemed to bring that process upon themselves on Sunday as Antonio Conte set up his side for a decisively passive performance at the Etihad Stadium, resulting in a 1-0 defeat.
As much as Chelsea’s players were following the instructions of their manager, it was still a disappointing performance from the Blues; Eden Hazard became completely disinterested after the first half an hour, Willian and Pedro failed to make the most of the few opportunities in which they received the ball, the midfield struggled to have any real impact on the game and the backline was largely found wanting as Bernardo Silva drifted in at the far post for the only goal of the afternoon.
But there’s one player who can return to west London with his head held high, and Chelsea fans won’t be too surprised that it’s Cesar Azpilicueta – the Blues’ Mr. Reliable and undoubtedly the most consistent, versatile and dependable defender in the Premier League at this moment in time.
The Spaniard’s most telling contribution came in the form of a goal line clearance to prevent what would have been a sensational goal from Leroy Sane, and that epitomised what was a decent performance from Azpilicueta under difficult circumstances – especially in comparison to many of his exceptionally quiet team-mates.
Indeed, the 28-year-old also won the most tackles of any Chelsea player, made the second-most clearances and blocked the most shots – an impressive three – while completing 92% of his passes, ranking first throughout the Blues’ XI for touches and not committing a single foul.
Despite the scoreline and the lack of intent Chelsea showed in a disappointingly negative performance, Azpilicueta still found a way to have a positive influence on the match.