If we learned one thing about the current Chelsea squad last weekend, it was their sense of togetherness. The week may have been blighted by Diego Costa’s apparent upheaval and restlessness in the face of a mega-money offer from China, but the rest of the squad seemed eerily calm.
A front three of Eden Hazard, Pedro and Willian gelled together exceptionally well as they probed and picked apart Leicester City in a performance of guile and grace.
This appears to be a squad not just singularly focused on winning back their Premier League crown, but with a tremendous team spirit impenetrable even to the petulant play-acting of their star striker.
This has only been further underlined by Gary Cahill, speaking with the Daily Mail this week. In doing so, he comments on many of his team-mates, with some interesting observations.
Specifically, speaking on Diego Costa, Cahill says “He just laughs and jokes around, always making daft noises! He has these moments where he just goes on a mad one, but he’s funny!”
Such sentiment is likely at odds with the impression of Costa most Chelsea supporters have. Be it his fiery passion upon finding the net or his lack of loyalty, Costa surely doesn’t strike the Stamford Bridge faithful as the ‘joker in the pack.’ Whether this light-hearted attitude ultimately prevails in the latest saga he has engineered for himself remains to be seen.
Cahill’s observations on some of his other team-mates are less surprising. Speaking on Azpilicueta, he says;
“If you want to get to the top you need to be like this guy. He looks at everything in detail, preparation for games, he trains 110% every session, he goes to the gym and does the recovery stuff. He’ll come in sometimes when we’ve got a day off!’
Even in a season of highs, Azpilicueta’s sustained brilliance has been sublime. Playing across the back 4 before Conte’s change of formation, and deputising at wing-back since, he has always been dedicated and committed.
Not all of Cahill’s comments were as revealing however. Speaking on John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic,, the England international said;
“John Terry and Branislv Ivanovic are strong! Especially Ivanovic, just because of the size of the guy! He’s a big Serbian who you wouldn’t want to mess with! He’s not even in the gym much, which is the scariest thing! If he WAS in the gym, I’d hate to see how big he would get!”
Not big enough to be of much use to Antonio Conte anyway. Ivanovic was one of Chelsea’s most disastrous performers last season. In a season of carnage, he seemed even more diabolical than all others, although he has undoubtedly shown improvement this season.
Chelsea fans likely can’t help thinking that if he applied himself to the extent of fellow defender Azpilicueta, Conte’s defensive options may not be quite as constrained as they are.