Patrick Vieira has come out this week and said the Current Chelsea side can match the unbeaten domestic season he enjoyed in 2003-04 season with Arsenal. That got us thinking…
Once you start thinking about it, an unbeaten season for Chelsea really doesn’t seem so impossible. Their issue last season was never against the big clubs but dropping points to smaller teams.
They dropped points in draws against West Brom, West Ham & Norwich City as well as losing to Aston Villa, Crystal Palace & Sunderland.
This year with the inclusion of a world class striker (Costa), a true playmaker (Fabregas) and proper full-back cover (Filipe Luís) the squad really does look special.
But let’s not forget just how great that 2003-04 Invincibles team was; Campbell, Cole, Vieira, Pires, Bergkamp & Henry were all world-class talents.
So that got us thinking here at Pundit Arena. Which Chelsea players would make it into that Invincibles team. In the name of sports journalism we’ve slaved away and produced this magnificent XI:
Scroll down for our formation mapped out too!
Arguably that Arsenal team were one of the last great teams to play those two banks of four in a 4-4-2 that usually adjusted to feature a deep-lying supporting striker in a 4-4-1-1. Much like Arsenal did, we’ve decided to drop one of our strikers deep and have forsaken the current love-affair with 4-3-3 or 4-5-1.
It’d be only fair to adopt the high-tempo attacking football that Arsenal team played. Known for their prolific use of full-backs on the overlap, counter-attacking football and almost telepathic understanding between players when going forward.
Mad Jens Lehmann or the young but confident Courtois? It’s close, Lehmann hadn’t really induced the heart-stopping moments of craziness at that point in his career and was truly superb.
Courtois meanwhile is a new addition to the Premier League. But he brings a wealth of experience from La Liga where he’s faced some great attacking talents. His albeit limited time in the Premier League suggests he has maintained that form and will likely get better. In this case youth wins out
Cole and Lauren controlled the flanks in that Arsenal time whilst Azpilicueta and Ivanovic run things for Chelsea. Ashely Cole was a star. Still a young talent he combined with Pires to provide the overlap for the Frenchman whenever Arsenal broke. Azpilicueta like Cole in that squad, is a young player who provides a real attacking threat.
Lauren, a converted midfielder was quietly efficient at right-back. Ivanovic for Chelsea also converted, this time from centre-back has grown into the role with each season. Defensively solid he has provided a real threat going forward for Chelsea this season and last.
But only two can make it. Given the make up of the midfield we put Ivanovic in over Lauren, able to provide a threat going forward much like Lauren but his natural defensive instincts will help a defence that will play behind a very attack-minded midfield. Azpilicueta is a talent no doubt but Cole’s ability going forward was greater than the Spaniard at present and we feel he would partner greatly with out choice for left-midfield.
VERDICT: IVANOVIC AND COLE
The interesting thing about the four centre-backs in question is that their partnerships probably make them stronger as a unit than the sum of their parts.
Toure played his first season as a centre-back at Arsenal during the unbeaten season. Though he was and still is prone to some poor decision making he was an athletic player capable of covering the ground quickly. Campbell meanwhile was a rock in that defence. He imposed himself magnificently in that team.
Terry is another play like Campbell who lacks pace but makes up for it in smarts. Though he can be caught on the counter he rarely is thanks to great positioning. Cahill meanwhile has progressed massively at Chelsea. The defining feature of his play is that he rarely gets himself into trouble. A solid player all round.
But of those two partnerships, the combination of Campbell and Terry is just too tantalising. In a XI that would be known for attacking ability they would likely be the unsung heroes.
VERDICT: CAMPBELL & TERRY
Matic and Fabregas have solved Chelsea’s problem’s so far this season. Many teams are crying out for either an imposing DM or playmaker in their midfield, Chelsea have both and it’s paying huge dividends.
Matic holds the midfield together perfectly. He tackles excellently and knows his role, he is there to keep things in order. Yet he is still capable of a defence splitting pass when needed. Fabregas meanwhile has quickly set the tempo for Chelsea. His stats pick for themselves really ; 11 appearences, 2 goals and 9 assists.
At Arsenal Vieira and Gilberto Silva featured in the middle. Silva was known as the ‘The Invisible Wall’ because you never really noticed his impact when he was playing, but sorely missed his presence when he wasn’t. He provided a great counter-weight to the box-to-box Frenchman; Vieira.
Where does one begin with Vieira, a leader on the pitch that could both score and defend. He was a true athlete with a range of passing. He was in many ways the perfect Premier League midfielder.
Once again it’s hard to justify breaking up these two partnerships. But as individuals, Fabregas and Vieira are too good to not want to imagine in the same midfield.
VERDICT: FABREGAS & VIEIRA
Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg played the channels at Arsenal. both capable of goals and assists Freddie relied more on pace to beat his man and cut inside.
Hazard and Willian take on these roles at Chelsea. Willian is a tricky player with a lot of technical ability. Hazard meanwhile is the best player in the premier league, we challenge you to provide a better one. Not only that, he’s surely on the cusp of being one of the world’s greatest if he can maintain his current vein of form.
Robert Pires. Where does one begin? He played the game beautifully. He possessed excellent passing vision, the ability to score from outside the box and was a real poacher too. Arsenal fans will remember countless tap-ins Pires put away such was his great positioning in the box.
This decision was probably the easiest. All day, every day you’re going to want to see Pires down the left and Hazard on the right. What a combination.
VERDICT: HARARD & PIRES
Diego Costa, hamstring permitting features in Chelsea’s side ahead of a deeper-lying Oscar. Costa has had a sensational start to the season as well as impressing for Athletico prior to his move. Oscar meanwhile provides incisive passing, a great shot and a high-work rate.
The Invincible team featured two of the greatest forwards to grace the English game. Bergkamp was a joy, his touch and composure were superb along with is ability find a pass. Sitting deep he created time for himself and the team before unleashing a pass to one of the game’s greatest.
Thierry Henry provided pace, power skill and a mercurial finish. If you don’t believe he was the greatest player to have played in the Premier League you’ll have to make a compelling case for the player who was.
The two Arsenal forwards combine terrifically and this is one partnership that shouldn’t be broken up.
VERDICT: BERGKAMP & HENRY
So there it is. Five Chelsea players make it in compared to Arsenal’s 6. So maybe, just maybe Patrick Vieira could be on to something. Please give us your thoughts on who makes your cut. Finally, here’s the magnificent XI in all its glory.
Sean Curtin, Pundit Arena
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