Sir

Squad Status: 2017/2018 Season

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Interesting and compelling stats on sky how lucky we have been with injuries

Courtois, Cahill, Azpilicueta have started every PL game.

Luiz has started everyone since joining.

Alonso has started every game since the switch to 3-4-3

Kante has missed one through suspension

Costa has missed 2, one suspension, one internal discipline 

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That could be down to the training and medical regimes or that our players are adults not teenagers or any number other things or a combination. I think there is a reason Arsenal get so many injuries and its not the effort they put into game time.

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Will be a combination of a less strenuous workload with less games this season. The change in fitness staff that's come in with Conte, along with his change in diet for the players. The added bonus has been a proper pre-season and increase in overall fitness of our players. Plus finally, some luck to avoid any sort of serious injuries to date. Which is always needed.

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Some tricky decisions regarding the captaincy coming up for Conte. Cahill seems like the natural choice, English, experienced, traditional values and an overall captain-like behaviour. The way he popped up just before half time to score our second against Southampton was also very Terry-like. But the problem is that Cahill is part of a three man defence that is on a horrendous run - we have not had a clean sheet in ages. And Cahill is performance-wise the weakest link in that trio. If we are to buy a new CB, Cahill is on the bench, and what point is it making him captain then? 

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Posted (edited)

10 hours ago, jones said:

Some tricky decisions regarding the captaincy coming up for Conte. Cahill seems like the natural choice, English, experienced, traditional values and an overall captain-like behaviour. The way he popped up just before half time to score our second against Southampton was also very Terry-like. But the problem is that Cahill is part of a three man defence that is on a horrendous run - we have not had a clean sheet in ages. And Cahill is performance-wise the weakest link in that trio. If we are to buy a new CB, Cahill is on the bench, and what point is it making him captain then? 

Buying a new centre back doesn't automatically mean the demotion of Cahill, much as you and several others would wish it so.

It's fairly clear from starting line-ups and substitutions that (going from left to right) our first choice trio is Cahill, Luiz & Azpilicueta with Aké, Terry & Zouma as the back ups. Zouma is not Cahill's back up, but Azpilicueta's. Terry is back up to Luiz, but no one else. With Terry leaving, next season we will require a back up for Luiz. That may be Christensen.

If we are looking for a new centre back, it's more likely to be for the right hand side where Zouma's skill-set is not really suited to playing in a back three and Azpilicueta, for all the great defending he's done this season, is a few inches shorter than we'd like. If it's for the left, I can still see Cahill as a main starter with Azpilicuta as his back up and the new man starting where Cahill was this season.

Cahill is far from being discarded.

Edited by Bob Singleton

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Posted (edited)

Gaining another competent ball playing central defender who has a physical edge to their game and we become stronger. I'd be keeping Cahill regardless and am in no rush to see him being pushed out the door. After a tough start to the season he's redeemed himself with some real top draw performances. 

Next season I'd be shocked if Zouma remains and isn't sent out on loan, while Terry won't be here either. We could also possibly see more of Azpi dividing time between WB and CB depending the nature of games. Christensen returns and could be used to replace Zouma. Ake can take Terry's place and then another CB comes in.

Cahill, Luiz, Azpi, Ake, Christensen and *new CB*. 

That would give us a good blend of experience and youth, while more importantly provides us with more equipped options in terms of desired skill sets and physical attributes - 4 potential players over 6ft, and 6 options with solid enough skills with ball at feet. 

The only unknowns would be where in the back three Christensen and any new CB would play. 

Edited by zaffo
skill sets, not skillets...

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On 4/28/2017 at 10:07 AM, Bob Singleton said:

Buying a new centre back doesn't automatically mean the demotion of Cahill, much as you and several others would wish it so.

It's fairly clear from starting line-ups and substitutions that (going from left to right) our first choice trio is Cahill, Luiz & Azpilicueta with Aké, Terry & Zouma as the back ups. Zouma is not Cahill's back up, but Azpilicueta's. Terry is back up to Luiz, but no one else. With Terry leaving, next season we will require a back up for Luiz. That may be Christensen.

If we are looking for a new centre back, it's more likely to be for the right hand side where Zouma's skill-set is not really suited to playing in a back three and Azpilicueta, for all the great defending he's done this season, is a few inches shorter than we'd like. If it's for the left, I can still see Cahill as a main starter with Azpilicuta as his back up and the new man starting where Cahill was this season.

Cahill is far from being discarded.

I think all signals point towards that it will, Bob. If we are buying someone new, it will be a player of such quality and price tag that he won't sit on the bench. And then it really is as simple as: which one of our current three will be dropped? It is clearly not going to Azpi, I don't even care to argue why. And unless we sign Bonucci, you will struggle to find arguments that can remove Luiz from the heart of the trio. Cahill has had a very good season for us, but has also shown his weaknesses. I really like Cahill, but I am not blind. It is not so much about the few own goals/penalties he has conceded (his goals make up for those), but about two other things:

1) panic defending and poor positioning when countered on. See no longer back than to the Palace game for examples. Our system demands that we quickly recover our defensive shape when countered on. Azpi is very effective here, Cahill not so much.

2) limited skill on the ball. Base on my expectations, I have actually been positively surprised how he has been able to play effectively and not lose the ball this season (after his horrible run early on against Swansea and Arsenal). He has been very loyal tactically when in possession (something Conte will appreciate), but clearly he is not contributing like Azpi, Luiz or Aké are going forward.

Clearly, these are weaknesses to Cahill's game that Conte is aware of. Cahill is more than capable, but if Conte prioritises to strengthen in defence, I will be shocked if it is Luiz or Azpi that will be dropped. But will CB be a priority in the upcoming transfer window? We were very solid before Christmas, but is on a bad run now.

Just like Zaffo, I think that Zouma will go on loan. Anything else would surprise me. Christensen will return, as mentioned by Gladbach's DoF, and in theory he is a Conte player. I think whether we buy a new CB or not depends on how much Conte rates Christensen, and that is anyone's guess at the moment.

6 central defenders seems like overkill, so I think it is a viable option to replace Terry and Zouma (loan) with Christensen. I wouldn't mind prioritising WB, CM, AM and CF in the market and give it a go with these five CBs.

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11 hours ago, jones said:

I think all signals point towards that it will, Bob. If we are buying someone new, it will be a player of such quality and price tag that he won't sit on the bench. And then it really is as simple as: which one of our current three will be dropped? It is clearly not going to Azpi, I don't even care to argue why. And unless we sign Bonucci, you will struggle to find arguments that can remove Luiz from the heart of the trio. Cahill has had a very good season for us, but has also shown his weaknesses. I really like Cahill, but I am not blind. It is not so much about the few own goals/penalties he has conceded (his goals make up for those), but about two other things:

1) panic defending and poor positioning when countered on. See no longer back than to the Palace game for examples. Our system demands that we quickly recover our defensive shape when countered on. Azpi is very effective here, Cahill not so much.

2) limited skill on the ball. Base on my expectations, I have actually been positively surprised how he has been able to play effectively and not lose the ball this season (after his horrible run early on against Swansea and Arsenal). He has been very loyal tactically when in possession (something Conte will appreciate), but clearly he is not contributing like Azpi, Luiz or Aké are going forward.

Clearly, these are weaknesses to Cahill's game that Conte is aware of. Cahill is more than capable, but if Conte prioritises to strengthen in defence, I will be shocked if it is Luiz or Azpi that will be dropped. But will CB be a priority in the upcoming transfer window? We were very solid before Christmas, but is on a bad run now.

Just like Zaffo, I think that Zouma will go on loan. Anything else would surprise me. Christensen will return, as mentioned by Gladbach's DoF, and in theory he is a Conte player. I think whether we buy a new CB or not depends on how much Conte rates Christensen, and that is anyone's guess at the moment.

6 central defenders seems like overkill, so I think it is a viable option to replace Terry and Zouma (loan) with Christensen. I wouldn't mind prioritising WB, CM, AM and CF in the market and give it a go with these five CBs.

Both Azpi and Cahill have their weaknesses, there's no disputing that. There is solid ground for why either of them would make way for another top CB. Given the system we have though a large part of our defending is based around being able to defend a higher percentage of crosses by winning aerial battles. This is where Cahill has the significant edge. His biggest strength comes in the air due to his physical stature, while his weakness is when it comes to one-on-one situations with the ball on the ground and requiring a tackle. Apzi on the other hand is the complete opposite, he lacks the height and size to win the aerial ball but excels in those on-on-one situations when the ball is on the ground. When you compare all three of our starting CB options, Azpi is last when it comes to clearances per game. 

In contrast, Spurs average more clearances per game than us. No surprise when you consider the back three they usually go with; Vertonghen (6'2"), Alderweireld (6'2") and Dier (6'2") are all the perfect blend of physicality and ball skills. 

When you factor in the above, Azpi is the leading contender to make way. Now, that's not to say he won't feature at CB at all, but it would be a secondary position. Moving him out to WB where his work rate and one-on-one skills would be better utilised just fits better. Now, against sides who say go smaller upfront then there's good reason to move Azpi into CB for his better one-on-one defending and mobility, but as a default position not so much. 

While having a potential 6 CB's in total may be deemed excessive, keep in mind that only 4 of them are natural (Cahill, Luiz, Christensen and New CB). The rest (Ake and Azpi) are ones who've migrated into the role in the last season or so and will potentially end up playing elsewhere at times. Thus it's more just having 6 potential CB options, rather than having 6 actual CB's themselves. 

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On 4/30/2017 at 2:56 AM, zaffo said:

Both Azpi and Cahill have their weaknesses, there's no disputing that. There is solid ground for why either of them would make way for another top CB. Given the system we have though a large part of our defending is based around being able to defend a higher percentage of crosses by winning aerial battles. This is where Cahill has the significant edge. His biggest strength comes in the air due to his physical stature, while his weakness is when it comes to one-on-one situations with the ball on the ground and requiring a tackle. Apzi on the other hand is the complete opposite, he lacks the height and size to win the aerial ball but excels in those on-on-one situations when the ball is on the ground. When you compare all three of our starting CB options, Azpi is last when it comes to clearances per game. 

In contrast, Spurs average more clearances per game than us. No surprise when you consider the back three they usually go with; Vertonghen (6'2"), Alderweireld (6'2") and Dier (6'2") are all the perfect blend of physicality and ball skills. 

When you factor in the above, Azpi is the leading contender to make way. Now, that's not to say he won't feature at CB at all, but it would be a secondary position. Moving him out to WB where his work rate and one-on-one skills would be better utilised just fits better. Now, against sides who say go smaller upfront then there's good reason to move Azpi into CB for his better one-on-one defending and mobility, but as a default position not so much. 

While having a potential 6 CB's in total may be deemed excessive, keep in mind that only 4 of them are natural (Cahill, Luiz, Christensen and New CB). The rest (Ake and Azpi) are ones who've migrated into the role in the last season or so and will potentially end up playing elsewhere at times. Thus it's more just having 6 potential CB options, rather than having 6 actual CB's themselves. 

I know you make this point repeatedly, but this is not the main area where we are shipping goals. Cahill could, in theory, be replaced with an equal aerial player that is both better on the ball and on positioning. Koulibaly and van Dijk for instance. And it would have been an overall upgrade. 

Anyway, I am not saying Cahill should be dropped. My point is that Conte has an important, and perhaps difficult, decision to make. Either he refrains from making a new CB signing and go with Cahill as a captain, or he spends big on a new CB that is going to command a starting place which in turn will make the captain choice more difficult (as I believe Cahill will be playing less). If Cahill is an obvious captain in Conte's eyes, this is not a difficult decision. But my guess is that there is not that much between Cahill, Azpi and possibly Luiz. 

What is positive is that our current back three have fantastic mental qualities, and are all leaders on the pitch. It is an area where we could do with upgrades, but it is for sure not the most pressing of concerns, and Christensen might quite possibly be a 30mp defender just waiting to get his chance. Knowing Abramovich, Conte will not get an unlimited budget in the summer, and his job will be to prioritise the most important signings. Two new wing-backs, a more complete CM to partner Kante and a quality AM/CF should be where we spend the big bucks. 

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