|1. CÉSAR AZPILICUETA - DL||8.5|
Five straight games of (mostly excellent) Filipe Luís had led some to question whether Azpilicueta would remain Mourinho's first-choice left back after returning from his suspension. After this game, I think the answer is a resounding "Yes, duh."
Solid at the back, especially 1-v-1 -- a task made easier by Liverpool aiming most of their attacks at our right flank through Raheem Sterling -- and impactful in attack, this was Dave at some of his very best. The way he shrugged off Philippe Coutinho to create Chelsea's winning goal was absolutely glorious. It was my favorite thing done to a North London wide defending position since Juan Mata wrecked Kyle Walker a couple years ago.
On a sidenote, Dave's stats reveal more Opta stat-counting weirdness. The cross before the goal counts as an "unsuccessful cross" but not an incomplete pass. There are two different passing stats. Passes, as listed to the right and "all" passes, which includes "passes" and "crosses" and, strangely, throw-ins. So Azpi's stat line is as follows: 21/26 passing, 0/1 crossing, 5/8 throw-ins = 26/35 "all" passes(?). WHY ISN'T A CROSS ALSO A PASS?? Baffling.
|2. DIEGO COSTA - FC||8.5|
What more can we say of Diego Costa? Been here just a few months, yet already a hero. And, perhaps most importantly, shows no signs of slowing down, despite the best efforts of the Spanish national team, and his own stubborn hamstrings.
Here's something else worth noticing though. Even when Diego Costa hasn't been fit to start, our second- and third-choice strikers have performed quite well, too. Drogba against Schalke is the only truly disastrous Torresian performance that I can recall from any of our center forwards. From Eto'o-Torres-Ba to Costa-Remy-Drogba, what a difference a year makes!
|3. NEMANJA MATIĆ - MC||8.2|
Just got done talking with the London Is Blue podcast guys about how Matić has been our most irreplaceable player, and Saturday's performance showed once again just why. He was the team leader in touches, total passes, tackles, interceptions, blocks, too, with an assist to boot.
While losing Costa or Hazard or Fabregas or Oscar or Terry would be scary as well, we have some backups who might approximate what those guys do to a decent enough percentage to not decimate our season. But for Matić, there is no safety net. There is no semi-autoMatić to keep our midfield coherent.
Courtois (7.8), Terry (7.7), Cahill (7.2), Ivanović (7.2), Fàbregas (6.8), Ramires (6.5), Hazard (7.7), Oscar (7.6)
Willian (7.2), Drogba (6.6), Filipe Luís (6.4)