Well, if a couple of decent goals gets you into the side fair enough but consistency has never been the Brazilian’s strongest attribute and frankly, had it not been for strategic voting, Coutinho would never have made the final six picks for the POTY award either.
What really should have got people talking about the final XI however was the omission of Chelsea left back Cesar Azpilicueta, who has been the best left back in Europe over the last two seasons bar none. The Spaniard is sensational and has become one of the first names on Jose Mourinho’s teamsheet.
It speaks volumes that Filipe Luis, a mainstay of the meanest defence in Europe and La Liga last season did not have a hope in hell of usurping Azpi. He is a lion at the back, one of the most consistent performers and the man Jose Mourinho dubbed the best player on the pitch against Manchester United.
Chelsea fans appreciate the Spaniard, and have taken him to their hearts but he is still relatively unsung in comparison to the rest of the Blues back four. Even Gary Cahill managed to get into the Team of the Year.
While that one is best left for another day given the defender is a bigger liability when faced with a modicum of pace than Steven Gerrard on a slippery surface, the fact that Azpi was the only one omitted was more of a testament to the fact that people now take it for granted that he is a solid 8/10 on a bad week, let alone during a game like the one against Manchester United or at the Emirates Stadium where he, along with John Terry, gave Arsenal nothing but tiny scraps to feed off.
You hardly ever see a threat come down Chelsea’s left hand side, and that is because of Azpilicueta and Terry. Most of their problems come down the Ivanovic / Cahill side, with fellow players knowing where they are likely to get the joy or free kicks, with Azpi undoubtedly the best man -to-man defender in the league, perhaps Europe.
The one man that matters knows exactly how good Azpi is, and Jose Mourinho never fails to offer praise to one of his most trusted lieutenants. Azpi is also popular with his fellow players and when Eden Hazard quipped on Chelsea TV that he signed his new deal to carry on playing with Azpilicueta, that moment highlighted not only the friendship between the two off the field but also their ability to click on it.
He also has a habit of winning the Players’ Player of the Year award at Chelsea and that tells you everything you need to know.
Jose Mourinho likes his players to be made up of a certain DNA and to become an untouchable you have to be a winner. You have to work for the team, the badge and your manager. You have to have ability in spades. You have to be willing to work hard and die for the cause. His left back – who isn’t even a natural left back by trade – is all that and more.
In fact, should the guy Chelsea fans affectionately call Dave stay in west London for his whole career, he could well usurp Ashley Cole and become their best ever left back.
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