Cesar Azpilicueta hasn’t enjoyed the best start to the season at right-back. Could moving him into the middle be the solution to Frank Lampard’s troubles?
Despite being one of the veterans of the squad that Lampard should be able to rely on, Azpilicueta has struggled so far this campaign. He has been part of a leaky defence that has conceded nine goals in the first nine games, and he has already received criticism from the Chelsea fans.
There have also been some issues at centre-back, with Kurt Zouma not looking particularly solid either. His WhoScored rating of 6.31 for the season tells its own story, especially when combined with the penalty he conceded against Manchester United and the own goal he scored versus the Blades.
As such, a change of position for the Blues’ club captain could be in order, potentially solving both Chelsea’s deficiencies at centre-half and Azpilicueta’s struggles at right-back.
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Azpilicueta has been fantastic for Chelsea since joining in 2012, registering a WhoScored season rating in the Premier League below 7.00 on just one occasion. However, he has not appeared as comfortable on the right side of the defence this season, as last Saturday displayed. Moreover, he’s never been a modern day full-back in an attacking sense and has lost a bit of pace after turning 30.
Having said that, he is still an experienced defender and does have the know-how that this otherwise youthful Chelsea side could do with – he is unlikely to drop out of the side altogether as he a key leader within the squad. Accordingly, a move to a more central role seems like the logical solution.
After all, the former Marseille man has played there before, and to good effect. Although as part of three, he was used in that position consistently by Antonio Conte as the Blues won the Premier League in 2016/17. Coupled with Antonio Rudiger or even Andreas Christensen, he could form a solid pairing.
That leaves the question of who takes over at right-back but with Reece James on the mend and Lampard already talking up how important the youngster could be this season, Chelsea already appear to have a natural successor.