Appearances: 34 starts (+3 as substitute).
Minutes: 1955 in Premier League; 660 in domestic cups; 540 in Champions League.
Statistics (per 90 minutes, Premier League): 0.83 tackles won (54.6% success rate); 3.08 aerial duels won (63.81% successful challenges); 1.56 blocks.
Despite a slow start to his career at Stamford Bridge, which saw him languish on the bench for about a month before winning just one of his first five appearances for the club (and overseeing the acrimonious end of AVB), Gary Cahill has won just about every trophy available to him while making almost 200 appearances for Chelsea in the last four and a half seasons. Having earned a four-year contract extension in December, just a few days short of crossing over to 30 and the "one-year deal policy", it seems that Cahill will only continue to add to those numbers. Not too shabby for a most average of center backs in many respects.
Cahill formed the Premier League's strongest defense last season alongside John Terry, but that partnership crumbled as quickly as Chelsea's season did. Poor form, injuries, and suspensions meant that Cahill started only two-thirds of our league games next to a rotating cast of characters including Terry, Zouma, Ivanovic, and even John Obi Mikel. Results were just as mixed as the partnerships.
Standout images of Cahill's season include the usual spate of last-ditch tackles and the always surprising poached goals on set pieces (headers would be more along what's expected, not highly technical volleys). He may be England's Brave Vice-captain, but he tends to stay out of the limelight, both on and off the pitch, sometimes maddeningly so when facing opposition strikers 1-v-1. His often extreme form of safe defending will usually shield him from making a tragic mistake, but will also limit his ceiling to what we've seen and experienced so far.
So, after another steady season -- though, like the rest of the team, even Cahill couldn't escape a lower standard of steadiness -- Cahill ends as the center back with the most appearances (37) and minutes (3,155) at the position, while also chipping in with almost as many goals by himself (4) as Terry, Zouma, and Ivanovic combined (5). And now we get to look forward to four more years of this...
The Good: Playing against Spurs, whether that be keeping a clean sheet at White Hart Lane or scoring the goal to start the comeback at Stamford Bridge.
The Bad: Starting alongside John Terry, which resulted in 2 clean sheets and just 4 wins from 15 tries.
The Ugly: Take your pick. Southampton at home? Everton in the FA Cup?
Verdict: The four-year deal given to Cahill may be a bit of a headscratcher, but with Terry and Ivanovic well on the downhill side of their careers and the next generation still looking to be found, Cahill's steady presence could be valuable. Granted, he's not spring chicken either and is unlikely to improve beyond this point, he should be serviceable at least as a backup for several more years. That said, Ramires was sold just a couple months after signing a long-term deal, so you never know...