Who exceeded expectations, and who fell short?
Kepa, Kepa, Kepa what can I say of our first choice goalkeeper that hasn’t been said this season. The decline has been shocking. Kepa this season played 33 games in the league conceded 47 goals with a save percentage of .545. To put that into context Kepa was 20th best out of the regular starting goalkeepers with Pickford the 2nd worst. Last season Kepa played 36 games conceded 39 goals with a save percentage of .675 as he stood 15th in the list. Kepa was tearing it up last season but it was a decent percentage to have although one should really be looking at .7+ if they are to be taken seriously. It’s not all been Kepa’s fault because the defence has looked far from reassured although they have conceded less shots on goal this season than last season. Kepa just look like he was caught in two minds whenever he had to make a decision. One area where Kepa still did well in was playing out from the back but that is secondary to the goalkeeper occupation. I think there is a good goalkeeper in Kepa and there were some good moments like the cup game against Liverpool but a change of scenery would be best for the Spaniard. Sevilla have been rumoured to want him and that could be a viable option. I would though also look into bringing in a new goalkeeping coach because Hilario isn’t cutting it. SELL or LOAN.
Caballero started 5 games in the league this season keeping 1 clean sheet with a save percentage of .563. At the age of 37 it would be too harsh to be overly critical of the Argentine. Willy shouldn’t really be in a position where Chelsea are relying on him to win games. Willy will be staying for one more season for sure but he will hope that Chelsea can bring in a good replacement for Kepa so that he doesn’t have to see too much action next season. KEEP.
Cumming was the 3rd choice goalkeeper and didn’t see any action this season. Maybe he could see some cup games next season if he sticks around. It is up to Cumming on what he wants to do. KEEP or LOAN.
Defenders – Right Backs
Another assured season from our captain Azpilicueta. Azpi’s pace might be leaving him behind but he still remains our best full back and probably our best defender in the team. Azpi ranked 6th in number of players tackled, along with ranking 6th in number of tackles won, 102, and 61 respectively. 32.7 of his pressures were successful which has him 19th in all players in the league. Azpi got 4 goals and 7 assists this season as a right back, left back, or centre back depending on whee he played. Reece James might be coming to the fore more often and Azpi could see his playing time reduced if we sign a good left back but he still has a lot to offer to the team as an experienced member of the squad. Azpi pulled a hamstring in his final game of the season against Arsenal but he should be back fit when pre season starts. Who knows Azpi could even play centre back if need be. The 30 year old has a couple more seasons in Chelsea blue for sure. KEEP
Reece James made 24 appearances for Chelsea this season having started 16 of those games, in the league. Reece got 2 assists as well. In total he made 39 appearances for Chelsea getting 2 goals and 4 assists. As far as assists go he should have had many more if our strikers were capable of getting on to the end of his brilliant crosses. Reece started the season injured and worked his way into the team after his brilliant season at Wigan last year. Reece’s crowning moment in the early stages was his equalising goal against Ajax at Stamford Bridge. Post lockdown Reece started 5 games and actually ended the season as one Chelsea’s stronger players. It was a good learning curve for much of the young players and Reece falls in that category. Reece is really good going forward but defensively he needs to improve. The key is that he starts next season fit and he should continue to improve and establish himself as a starter in the team and one of the best right backs in the league. Reece will also have a certain Hakim Ziyech playing down the right next season and the two seem to have already built a rapport with one another. KEEP.
Defenders – Centre Backs
24 year old Zouma returned from a successful loan at Everton to once again be involved with Chelsea. An ACL to Zouma in the 15/16 season really damaged his development at the club and he was sent out on loan or kept on the bench until this season. Zouma like many of our younger centre-backs is prone to making a mistake but he has shown that he is probably the best centre back we have. Zouma made 28 appearances for Chelsea in the league starting 24 of those games. Zouma as was the case with most of our centre backs was involved in the mix and match as Lampard could never really settle on his centre back pairing. At the beginning he was alongside Tomori, then Christensen, then Rudiger and post lockdown it was a mix with the latter two. Post lockdown though Zouma is one of the players who ended the season in positive fashion as he was colossal at the back. Zouma for me needs as is the case with Christensen, and Tomori needs a strong leader beside him to bring out the best in the defence. Zouma though has leadership qualities and I want to see him develop into an important centre back for Chelsea. There have been rumours of a sale but those rumours have vanished due to recent positive performances. KEEP.
24 year old Christensen made 28 appearances for Chelsea this season with 21 coming in the league. In the league Christensen made 18 starts out of which 10 were wins with 3 being clean sheets 4 draws and 4 losses. In total he started 26 games winning 11, losing 9, and drawing 6, keeping 4 clean sheets in the process. When one watches a game Christensen has some very great moments and some very sloppy ones. Mathematically the stats would tell you that Christensen is involved in the most defeats compared to the amount of games that he has played in total. Personally I think Christensen will stick around he is still young for a centre back and he can only improve. The only way I would think of selling Christensen was if someone paid a substantial amount for him otherwise he stays. KEEP?.
The 26 year old German centre back played 28 times for Chelsea this season. Initially Rudiger suffered from a groin injury that kept him out for a large part of the season. Once fit though he featured heavily towards the end until he was involved in some defeats and was dropped. Rudiger isn’t an easy on the eye defender he seems very rash and doesn’t instil fans with confidence when on the pitch. The stats would tell you that he is one of our better centre backs if not the best but I don’t see it. An older experienced centre back is needed who is both consistent and can organise the defence as well. Rudiger is not that and he is a squad level defender at best. Sell.
22 year old Tomori returned from his loan at Derby having been named their player of the season. Tomori started most of Chelsea’s games during the first half of the season and alongside Zouma he formed the crucial partnership that helped us get together our winning run. Losses to City and West Ham put a dent in Tomori’s hopes and then injuries curtailed his season. At times he was not selected and at times he was only fit to make the bench. Tomori failed to feature in any of the games in the latter stages but he showed plenty of promise this season. Tomori’s pace is a key factor of his play although there is plenty to work on when it comes to positioning etc. Some would say we might need to loan Tomori and I would agree to that only if we bring in more than 1 centre back for next season. Otherwise Tomori should stay and hopefully remain fit and fight back into a starting XI position. KEEP.
Defenders – Left Backs
Alonso made 29 appearances for Chelsea in all competitions this season adding 4 goals and 4 assist from left back. Alonso started the season well and then faded away as Reece James began to play more games, and Azpilicueta was shifted to the left. Alonso returned to the pitch towards the end of February and then featured heavily post lockdown. Everyone knows what Alonso’s strengths are and that is when he plays as a left wing back in a 3-4-3. Alonso is great going forward with a great eye for goal but tracking back isn’t his forte he doesn’t have the pace for it either especially when he plays as a left back in a back four. Alonso has done well for Chelsea since he joined in 16/17 and he was colossal as we won the title that season and has played a proper part in Chelsea’s successes of the last few seasons. It might be time to call it a day though with interest from Italy and Spain there for the player. If we are going to end up selling one left back then I would pick Emerson and keep Alonso around although if well both I wouldn’t mind. Sell?.
Emerson made 21 appearances for Chelsea this season getting 1 assist. Emerson started quiet a few games until the end of January but after the draw against Arsenal he never got a look into the starting XI. Emerson finally managed to end the season with a start in Munich against Bayern but that was mostly due to the fact that we had no players to pick from. Emerson looked great at the beginning of the season as fans felt like they might have an attacking left back on their hands with plenty of pace and balance in defending as well. It hasn’t worked out though and now Emerson is heavily rumoured to be leaving the club in this window. Sometimes moves don’t work out and Emerson was one of those there are plenty of clubs who would take him especially Conte if given a chance. SELL.