We’re 10 games from the end of the Premier League, but it’s still impossible to predict who will win. Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool all have realistic chances of taking the no.1 spot cometh the end of the season. Mainly because most fixtures in which the current Top 4 play each other, are still to come.
I’m not here to talk about fixtures, No. We’ve all witnessed probably the most competitive Premier League title race unravel, and as predicted at the start of the season, Chelsea and Manchester City are right up there. Manchester City have bulldozed their opponents, whereas Chelsea have ‘Mourinho-ed’ theirs. Yeah, I’m using that as an actual term. Because to call it anything else, would mean taking away a lot of credit from the wily genius that he is.
Although both teams are up there, both have done it differently. City have scored goals for fun, whereas Chelsea, in typical Mourinho style, have conceded the least. Mourinho has a peculiar way of setting his team up; Defensively solid, counter-attacking machines, to say the least. And this season has been no different. In similar fashion to his first season in charge of Chelsea, the 2004-05 season, where Chelsea conceded a record-lowest 15 goals in the whole season, he has again addressed that problem up first.
In recent seasons, Chelsea managers, trying to bring about a change in the style of play, have led to Chelsea leaking goals. Uncharacteristically so, since Chelsea have always been portrayed to be a defensive team. Mourinho, on the other hand can not bear the sight of his team leaking goals, and I’m pretty darn sure that the first person he talked to after taking over would have been John Terry.
John Terry, a name synonymous with Chelsea Football Club itself, is arguably the best central-defender England have (Ouch!). If you don’t know him, and still find yourself reading this, you’re probably a toddler who’s gawking at the laptop screen alongside his/her parent.
For JT, last season was a season to forget. He made a total of 14 appearances for the club in the Premier League and was practically frozen out of the first team setup because of injuries and poor form. Most of the footballing ‘genuises’ across the world said that his time was up and he would be, at the max, a bit-part player this season.
Come this season, John Terry has been re-invented. He has been the heart of Chelsea’s solid defence once more, proving critics wrong right from the outset. Mourinho has wasted no time in making him the core of Chelsea’s spine, and JT has responded beautifully. Up until recently, wherein he missed 3 games due to an injury, he was the only player to play every minute of every game for the club, apart from Petr Cech. And boy, did it show! Chelsea’s leaky defence suddenly looked water tight and opponents found it increasingly difficult to breach this wall.
Just like Mourinho’s first season in charge, where Carvalho was a perfect foil to JT’s hard tackling play, this time around Gary Cahill has slotted right in. Gary Cahill, primarily, is a ball-playing defender, relying more on last ditch blocks and tackles rather than interceptions. And that has proven to be the perfect foil for Terry. John Terry has once more become one of the key players in a team full of superstars.
This season, where goalscoring records have been broken by the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool, Chelsea have just let in 22 goals. Yes, that’s right! 22 goals in 28 games. And that is in no small part down to the stability offered by JT alongside Gary Cahill. And until recently, when Matic was acquired, they’ve had John Obi Mikel ‘protecting’ (pun intended!) the back four.
His impact on Chelsea’s overall solidarity can be clearly seen in the following table.
JT’s comparison to his peers shows why Chelsea have been defensively superb. His lowest defensive errors and tackles lost provide proof of that. And it’s common knowledge that winning an aerial duel with JT and Cahill is next to impossible, as justly reflected by his stats. His overall impact on the team has been brilliant too, as can be reflected by his pass success (he has a pass accuracy of 90%) and forward passes alike. Not to mention, he has scored 3 goals too, including a 93rd minute winner recently against Everton.
In the games that JT has missed through injury, Chelsea have dropped points at West Brom and have been knocked out of the FA Cup courtesy a 2-0 defeat by Manchester City. That itself is enough to provide further proof of his importance to the team. Also, it has been further compounded by David Luiz’s inability to provide any sort of assurance in the center of defense. Rather surprisingly, Luiz has been below par while playing as centre-back.
The game against Galatasaray was supposed to be one of the fiercest tests for JT because he was rubbing shoulders with none other than Didier Drogba. Both of them know each other inside out and it was interesting to see them tussle. Also, looking at the fact that it’s practically impossible to physically bully Drogba, there was a keen sense of intrigue about this particular battle. Being Chelsea’s 2nd best player this season, Hazard taking the crown, Terry was expected to inspire his team to a solid performance away in Turkey.
Did he? Meh, let’s look at what Didier had to say post-match :
“I was happy that I can play against my favourite team, but at the same time I knew it was going to be a very tough game. They know me and I know them too so it is always going to be difficult. But I think I have a few memories from training when I scored a few goals and also a few goals where they stopped all my shots.” He continued, “JT defended like a monster, so it was very difficult”
There you go, words from the man himself. One thing is for sure; When you hear Drogba say something like that about ANY defender, you can be rest assured that the said defender must have had a half decent game.
The focus now shifts to the return leg where this battle will be renewed. Just another day at the office for JT, huh?
Even at this stage in his long career, Terry plays with the zeal and enthusiasm which would easily put 20 year-olds to shame. His passion for the crest is undying and his commitment, unquestionable. Yes, he has made mistakes which he shouldn’t have, but seldom in England will you find a player who is so passionate about the game that he makes you want to watch and keep watching. And this season he has proved again why he is still Chelsea and England’s best central defender. His in-game experience is incredible and he seems to thrive off pressure. What’s more, he has a burning passion for everything surrounding Chelsea Football Club. His goal on against Everton was almost meant to be – saving his beloved team from falling behind in the title race. It’s no real doubt that barring a handful of Chelsea fans, or not even those, John Terry is, and will always be, Stamford Bridge’s undisputed Captain, Leader, Legend.