Cesar Azpilicueta, secondary assist machine

I am all that is Dave, hear me roar! - Julian Finney

Nemanja Matic is not the only player who has unexpectedly upped his contributions to the Chelsea attack.

Graham showed you earlier that Nemanja Matic has not only solidified our midfield, he's turned into a somewhat unexpected source of assists over the last four Premier League matches as well.  But it turns out he's not the only one to have stepped up his attacking game.  In fact, on three of Matic's four assists, the secondary assist came from Cesar Azpilicueta.

This perhaps shouldn't be too surprising since we saw last season that Dave is more than capable of supporting the attack.  Since Mourinho turned him into a left back however, Azpilicueta's been mostly tasked with staying back and helping John Terry's revival instead.  While he did provide the primary assist for Fernando Torres's goal in Istanbul with a bursting run up the left wing and the lucky assist for Demba Ba's winner against PSG with a hopeful cross-shot, his role hasn't actually changed that much.  The three secondary assists all came via throw-ins, and that is actually quite surprising since we've generally wasted our throw-ins since time immemorial.

Azpilicueta's mass-produced secondary assists have helped double his offensive production over the last couple months.  He's now up to nine points for the season, five coming since the last time we looked the 2013/14 scoring statistics.  Here's how all the other players stack up.

Gcp201314nearend_medium

A few observations:

  • Eden Hazard leads in almost all categories.  Oscar does have a matching amount of assists, or about a dozen more than you'd expect from a player who provides "no creativity" for a number ten.  The Brazilian, despite his poor form for most of 2014, has actually upped his offensive contribution over the last two months and has now broken the 100 minute/point barrier.
  • Willian's ten secondary assists are an indication of where his greatest value to this team lies.  On a related note, Samuel Eto'o is the only striker with a secondary assist, which does mesh with the thinking that out of our three strikers, he's the one who's most capable of linking up with the rest of the team.
  • Thanks to a few recent blowouts, Chelsea have actually scored quite a few non-game-changing goals lately, eight to be specific.  Which just so happens to also be the exact same amount that they scored from August to February.  Four of the last eight non-GCG+s came against Arsenal.  Thanks, Arsenal!
  • Before his last two goals, only one of Ba's five goals (up to that point) on the season had come in a game-changing situation.  This is in stark contrast with early last season, when he was one of the most clutch strikers in the Premier League.
  • Our two first-choice full backs may not contribute to goals too often, but when they do, it's usually at a crucial time.
  • Terry, Cahill, and David Luiz have only four goals combined.
  • Mohamed Salah is off to a fantastic start.
  • Petr Cech got his first point of the season, his long goal kick up to Torres playing a part in André Schürrle's third goal against Fulham.
  • For the first time in the three full seasons that he's been here, Fernando Torres is on track to not be our most used striker.  Samuel Eto'o has a 100-minute lead on the £50m-man with six matches (perhaps seven) remaining.
  • For the second straight season, Branislav Ivanovic looks well on track to be our most used non-goalkeeper.

The end.  Scoring statistics will return after the conclusion of the season.

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