Bargain. That is how Gary Cahill would be described. His service to Chelsea FC has been outstanding and nothing short of exemplary. Many players arrive from lower-tier clubs and fizzle away to mediocrity. Danny Drinkwater has suffered the similar fate failing to make an appearance this season. There are some who excel and become excellent assets who have improved tenfold and Gary Cahill has capitalised on his opportunity.
Gary Cahill signed for Chelsea in January 2012 for approximately £7 million. The former Bolton defender made the move on the back of an impressive season at the Reebok Stadium. Linked with most of the Premier Leagues top clubs, the Englishman chose Chelsea as his preferred destination and has not looked back since. He won the UEFA Champions League in his debut season followed by the Europa League in 2013, two Premier League titles, one FA Cup and one League Cup. The English centre-back has made more than 280 appearances for the club. His last major appearance was playing in the FA Cup final against Manchester United last season lifting the trophy at Wembley.
“Chelsea is a massive club, it is a club that looks to win trophies season in season out and it is a big opportunity for me to be a part of that. Opportunities like this you can’t turn down.”
After a season of being a bit part player, Cahill still managed to find a place in England’s 2018 World Cup squad. England’s stellar performances meant his arrival at Chelsea’s training ground, Cobham, meant he was already behind Maurizio Sarri’s new style of play. David Luiz and Antonio Rüdiger had enough preparation time to understand the new coach’s ideologies. Cahill failed to feature in any of Chelsea’s first five match day squads before an injury to Antonio Rüdiger against West Ham last weekend granted him his first minutes of the new campaign.
Andreas Christensen was given his first start in the recent Europa League game against PAOK Salonika to partner Rüdiger with Cahill left out. These snubs have made Gary Cahill seriously reconsider his future at the club with a move away as early as January in a bid to gain more playing time.
“Having been a big part of things for six years, I’m finding it difficult to deal with this situation. To learn a new way of defending and new ideas – I’m sure [Sarri] didn’t feel comfortable putting me in and so I fully expected to miss the start of the season, and we’ve not lost, so there’s no arguments from my point of view. But at the same time, thinking back to when Petr Cech was at the club – when Thibaut [Courtois] came he found it difficult to get game time but he knew he could play week in, week out. I’m in a similar situation.”
Being made club captain after John Terry’s departure, Cahill has been a mainstay in the heart of defence but is Maurizio Sarri making a mistake by leaving out the former England International? We analyse his statistics and compare them to Chelsea’s current defenders to truly see whether he deserves to be left out of the starting eleven.
English Style Defending
Gary Cahill has always divided opinion. Some believe he was one of the best defenders in the country, an heir to John Terry for both Chelsea and England, others would have you believe he is a liability, a player that lacks pace and spatial awareness. John Terry was blessed with incredible game awareness and an ability to lead a defensive unit throughout his career. Even after Gary Cahill was given club captaincy he’s never convinced the masses.
Having won every major trophy since joining Chelsea in 2012 and every new manager bringing in their favoured centre-back, his impending decline was inevitable. Antonio Conte’s first season in charge saw him replace Cahill with Andreas Christensen and later Antonio Rüdiger but Gary Cahill eventually found his way back into the team when Conte switched to three centre-backs. Once again under Sarri, the veteran defender must prove why he deserves to be in the starting eleven, but how does he stand against his teammates?
Gary Cahill Statistics versus The Rest
César Azpilicueta is an outstanding defender and the data merits his performances. Gary Neville once hailed the versatile Spanish fullback as the best one v one defender in the Premier League during José Mourinho’s title-winning season. His tackles, interceptions, blocks, and errors leading to goals has outclassed the rest of his colleagues.
Gary Cahill’s results have produced mixed reactions. A key attribute associated with Cahill has been his bravery. Having averaged one interception, 0.48 blocks and 0.67 tackles per game, the Danish sensation, Andreas Christensen has outperformed the veteran defender in two out of three attributes. An average of 0.63 blocks and 1.37 interceptions per game showcases his speed and size with his tackling only at 0.48 per 90 minutes. Although, Cahill has won the most aerial duals at 73.87%.
With David Luiz only completing 10 games, the real comparison lies between Azpilicueta, Rüdiger, and Christensen. Antonio Rüdiger and César Azpilicueta have recorded zero errors leading to goals with Cahill averaging 0.04. A negligible figure but compared to two defenders who rarely make mistakes, this has cost Chelsea in the past.
Sarri’s style of play requires his defenders to be quick, intelligent and adept with the ball. The centre backs should possess a wide range of passing to play out of any situation and be comfortable in possession. Many teams press Chelsea’s defenders, hurrying them into a mistake thus forcing Chelsea to play out to Alonso, Azpilicueta or Jorginho. Cahill’s decline has seen him lose a yard of pace and possess the weakest passing statistics of Chelsea’s centre-backs last season.
Azpilicueta, Rüdiger, and Christensen have surpassed Cahill in total passes, successful passes, and total forward passes. Even with Christensen’s relative inexperience, Chelsea would want to invest time and development into a potential world-class centre-back who has already shown glimpses of his ability. Not only has he played well, but his statistics have proved he can fit into Sarri’s system with more playing time. Chelsea may have finally found their true heir to John Terry’s throne.
Time For Change?
Gary Cahill has been a loyal servant to the club and has been the crux of arguably Chelsea’s most successful era. Having fought for a place in the side under several different managers, he has eventually regained the manager’s trust and became an important cog in the everlasting well-oiled machine. Admittedly, his mistakes were overshadowed by John Terry’s brilliance but no one can doubt the countless years of service.
Being awarded club captaincy after John Terry’s departure was a huge coup for him and became an important figure in the dressing room for young and new players coming in. With the club going through a transitional phase, Cahill’s presence might be more useful in the dressing room. He is an excellent backup, with a wealth of experience, he will come useful as Chelsea compete on four fronts.
His inclusion for the game against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday showcased Chelsea’s incredible strength in depth. Replacing his invaluable experience in both Europe and England will be difficult to come by. Keeping him around for another season may be the best solution with the club keen to avoid a similar crisis after the quick departures of Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, John Terry, and Branislav Ivanovic.