Gary Cahill suffered a calf injury on Tuesday that saw him struggling to finish the game against West Brom. In retrospect, putting Ashley Cole on as soon as Cahill went down injured might have saved the Blues two vital points in that fixture, as Cahill was clearly struggling to move for the game's final minutes. Two dropped points may not be the biggest worry for Chelsea fans though, as Cahill has become increasingly more important to Jose Mourinho's side this season. A year ago at this time, I don't think too many could have imagined that being the case.
The 28-year old has always had elite physical tools, but he's struggled to dominate because of simple mental errors. Far too often, Cahill would see a striker making a run toward goal, and respond by breaking the defensive line to stay with him. The defender's natural ability often allowed him to recover from the initial mistake, but left his teammates in an awful position more often than not.
This season has seen a remarkable transformation, as Cahill and John Terry have become the best defensive pairing in England. The decision making has been notably improved, leaving Terry in position to mop up as opposed to scrambling to cover mistake after mistake. David Luiz, however, remains somewhat erratic in his decision making, and like Cahill before Mourinho's return, often leaves Terry with little chance to make up for his lack of mobility. The best case scenario here would be that Cahill's injury is nothing serious, and that both return to action with no problems against Manchester City this Sunday. David Luiz is more than capable in the center of the defense, but he and Terry haven't formed the same sort of cohesive unit that the English pairing have.
Just as worrisome, Cahill's ability in the air provides real problems for opposing defenders. Between himself, Nemanja Matic, John Terry, and Branislav Ivanovic, Chelsea are an absolute nightmare for the opposition to mark. David Luiz is a valuable asset to the attack as well, though more when the ball is at his feet than as a target in the air.
Hopefully, Cahill's injury is nothing that will see him out for an extended period of time, as his improvement under Mourinho has been remarkable. He's become more important to our title push than I could have possibly imagined.
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