Gary Cahill has always been a top defender. Since his days at Bolton, he has continually put his body on the line to make sure his team never concedes. It was his excellence at centre back that caught the attention of Chelsea scouts, and ultimately landed him a contract with us. He has been an important player for us since his arrival, helping us to a good trophy haul. However, in recent times, his performance level seemed to hit an abysmal low.
Throughout the 2015/16 season, he made a lot of errors, and was even dropped to the bench at some point. This obvious dip in performance was also reflected in his performances for his home country, England. At Euros 2016, an English defence led by him was quite shaky, and they conceded goals against teams they shouldn’t have. That led to an early exit from the competition for England, and attracted a lot of criticism for Cahill. But his poorness in defence didn’t show any signs of improvement; the football season in England for 2016/17 began, and the same problems continued to rear up their heads. Cahill made errors upon errors, and although they weren’t immediately obvious during Chelsea’s winning run in the first 3 games of the season, it was largely due to the fact that our attack was performing well. The cover didn’t take long to blow, though, as soon enough Cahill’s errors started to cost us games. First, against Swansea, we drew, when we should have won, then against Liverpool and Arsenal, we lost when the reverse should have been the case. Then came the change that transformed things for both Chelsea and Cahill.
Losing against Arsenal prompted a change in formation for Chelsea by Conte. He introduced the 3-4-3 system for the club, and Chelsea have been stronger ever since. Every department of the team seems to be benefitting from the change, but the most obvious one perhaps, has to be the defence. Prior to the change, we conceded goals like every other game, but since it came, we have let in none. Chelsea have kept 5 clean sheets in a row— a feat that’s very rare in the Premiere league, you’ll want to agree. Cahill’s renaissance for me is one of the many positives from this system. He seems more assured now from his partnership with Luiz and Azpilicueta at the back. He has not stepped a foot wrong, and is better at closing down opposition attacks. Also helping our defence is the presence of wing-backs in the new look Chelsea. Our wing-backs have offered our back 3 more protection, aside from the protection that they get from Matic and Kante. Cahill, a player who was once an object of verbal criticism from football experts and fans, is at the moment leading the strongest defence in the league. It is still early days to start tipping us for the title, but you can’t dispute the fact that we’re certainly not out of the running. There’s plenty of confidence flowing in the team at the moment, and if Cahill and his partners at the back continue to maintain their current heights, it’ll definitely take some stopping to deny us a 2nd EPL title in 2years.