Footballers are the creme de la creme of the beautiful game; they decide what happens on the field of play. They have become so influential that the power of the dressing room cannot be underestimated. We laud managers for their tactical savvy and managerial skill, but in all, no matter how good a manager’s ideas are, if he lacks the right players to execute it, then he’s likely to only flatter to deceive.
At Chelsea, Conte’s ideas are paying off as seen in recent results owing to the mentality and conformity among his players. The reason for Chelsea’s success this season in comparison to last season is players susceptibility to the manager’s ideas. This season has been exhilarating and here are my mid-season top five performers:
The underrated and unsung hero of the team; the Spaniard has become an influential figure in the Chelsea dressing room. His performances haven’t gone unnoticed by the club after being rewarded with a new contract. He’s been shunted across the Chelsea backline and yet continues to perform with great aplomb and hardly sees his place in the team under threat. A great cover for Victor Moses down the right channel proves his defensive nous and his sumptuous delivery for Diego Costa’s winner against Crystal Palace are his two major contributions this season. He’s absolutely the king of Chelsea’s defence.
The gigantic shot stopper is back to his best after experiencing a dip in form and confidence. Two bizarre red cards and strings of poor performances was a clear reflection of Chelsea poor results on his part last season. But this season, he looks reborn under Conte’s watchful eyes and his performances have been stunning. A sharp reflex save against Sunderland and keeping Chelsea in the game against Manchester City are two defining moments of this season. If you want to know the advantage of having a world-class goalie, ask title-winning managers.
The energetic and combative summer signing is gradually turning out to be the best transfer business of the season. His passing ability, tackling and all round game has been remarkable. He has filled a void in Chelsea’s midfield, thus giving them the much-needed steel to compete physically. A top-notch signing and very impressive.
The mercurial playmaker is enjoying his football after a new lease of life to his game. Being given the license to roam around the pitch and contribute immensely to his team’s attacking play has been a masterstroke this season. He’s been creating and scoring for fun and equally looks back to his best. His dazzling display against Everton sums it all. He’s the real star of this team and even possibly the league.
There’s no way any team can win the title without a genuine threat upfront in the mould of a lightning, powerful and in-form striker. Step forward Diego Costa. Chelsea have the best of best centre forwards in the world. Costa’s all round game oozes class and his ability to sniff and take advantage of chances is remarkable. His application of brain and brawn is magnificent, no wonder he tops the scoring charts. As we all know, his temperamental tendencies have been absent from his game this season and yet we see him outclass the best defences. His winner against Watford, West Ham, Crystal Palace, West Brom, Middlesbrough and telling contributions against Manchester City, Spurs, Swansea and a host of other teams are testaments to his growing reputation as a force to be reckoned with as he drives our title push.
Let’s enjoy more success. Cheers!