Antonio Conte was the guest of honor at Thursday night’s Chelsea Pitch Owners fundraiser dinner — if you’re not a Pitch Owner yet, and would like to be, click here for the application to purchase one (for overseas orders, the framed option is recommended) — and in his 45-minute question and answer session with club legend Pat Nevin, he covered a lot of the usual ground we’ve heard him cover before.
But there was one answer, as reported by Dan Levene, which stood out to me, when talking about the new roles for players like César Azpilicueta and Victor Moses.
Conte: "Azpi is incredible in his new role - one of the best in the world in this role. Also Moses - to run with this quality. Fantastic."— Dan Levene (@danlevene) February 23, 2017
“Incredible” César Azpilicueta “one of the best in the world” as the right-sided center back in the backline of the 3-4-3. For a right back, turned left back, turned center back, that’s tremendous praise.
And it’s not just lip service. Azpilicueta has played in every single match of every single competition Chelsea have taken part this season, starting all but two games: the FA Cup games against Peterborough and Wolverhampton, in both of which he came off the bench to help see out the result. Unsurprisingly, he is the team’s leader in minutes played, his 2658 minutes representing almost 95% of Chelsea’s 31 matches played so far this season.