The best 25-man squad of the Roman Abramovich era – Part 4

Which three players will form the devastating forward line?

By Terry Sazio

We’re almost there. We’ve nearly fully revealed both the ultimate starting line-up and the best 25-man squad of the Roman Abramovich era.

In part one, Petr Čech was the overriding choice from both myself and the readers to be our man between the posts.

In part two, Branislav Ivanović, Ashley Cole, Ricardo Carvalho and John Terry (our captain for this team too) formed the defence.

In part three, Frank Lampard, Michael Essien, Cesc Fàbregas (my starting XI), Claude Makélélé and Michael Ballack (along with Lampard for the readers’ XI) were chosen as the main midfielders.

The team(s) are taking shape and look already awesome. Unstoppable even.

And we’ve not even added the front three yet. Once this starting line-up is complete, if it was ever unleashed onto the footballing world football…

My condolences, seriously.

Let’s find out who took the final three spots then, shall we?

In this part, I will be revealing who I and the readers chose for both roles upfront:

• Winger (WG – 2 will be picked, with the second choice being the second most popular from mine and the readers’ perspective)
• Striker (ST)

Just as a reminder, you will see the player that I chose for each position and the player that you chose via the polls.

The starting line-up will hypothetically be playing in a 4-3-3 formation, as that has been the most used formation in this era. You will also see a substitutes’ bench consisting of seven players, along with seven more who didn’t make the bench but help to complete the squad(s).

In regards to what I mentioned in part one about the structure of my squad (how many players in each part of the team – GK/DF/MD/FW), my amount for each part will slightly vary to what you, the readers, will have in yours.

My squad will consist of three goalkeepers, seven defenders (4 centre-backs and 3 full-backs), eight midfielders and seven forwards (3 strikers and 4 wingers).

Your squad, on the other hand, will include three goalkeepers, eight defenders (4 centre-backs and 4 full-backs), eight midfielders and six forwards (2 strikers and 4 wingers). That way, you’ll have the traditional ‘two players for every position’ situation in play.

50+ forwards have graced the frontline for Chelsea in the Roman Abramovich era. Some contributed to our success in a good way, some… have been downright abysmal.

Pato, Falcao, Di Santo, Quaresma, Cuadrado… shall I keep going?

The forwards that you will see on the following lists though – will give us moments that will be with us for our entire lives, and long after we’re gone too.

Let us begin with the…

Many wingers have run down the flanks, cut inside and caused nothing but aggro for defenders over the last fifteen-plus years.

Here are the best four to do so…

JOE COLE

Photo Source: Metro

Joined – August 2003
Signed from – West Ham United (£6.6m)
Appearances – 280
Goals – 40 
Assists – 42

As I mentioned in the ‘Attacking Midfielder’ section in part three, Joe Cole can play a host of attacking roles with absolute ease.

Whether it was a traditional ‘number 10’ or as a second striker even, Cole took to those roles like a duck to water. The same should also be said for when he played in the role of a winger.

His dribbling and overall flair, combined with an eye for a killer pass, made Joe a lethal threat from the wing. Whether it was from the left or on the right, full-backs used to hate him coming at them.

Honours
Premier League – 2004-05, 05-06, 09-10
FA Cup – 2007, 2010
League Cup – 2004-05
FA Community Shield – 2005
PFA Team of the Year – 2005-06
Chelsea Player of the Year – 2007-08

Best Moment – vs Manchester United (Premier League), April 2006

Here’s another look at what I believe to be Joe Cole’s best moment in Chelsea blue.

EDEN HAZARD

Photo Source: Evening Standard

Joined – June 2012
Signed from – Lille (£32m)
Appearances – 338 (Currently)
Goals – 105 (Currently)
Assists – 86 (Currently)

Earlier in this feature series, I said Joe Cole is arguably the most naturally gifted player to ever play for Chelsea.

Note the key word in that sentence… arguably. The reason why I did not definitively say he is because whilst he’s incredibly gifted, he’s not the most.

That belongs to Eden Hazard, who is simply breathtaking to watch.

“I thought Hazard was one of the best players in Europe, but now I am changing my mind that he is the best.”

– Maurizio Sarri on Eden Hazard

Mainly positioned on the left-hand side of a front three, the Belgian wizard has the capability of playing pretty much every single positional from an attacking point of view.

Astonishing pace, mesmerising technical ability, combined with sublime flair, immense set-piece skills and levels of being calm under pressure that is simply off the charts… He has it all in his locker.

Winger on both sides, central attacking midfielder, the ‘number 10’, a second striker, as a lone striker and even as a ‘false 9’ on occasion – Hazard will punish you from anywhere and everywhere.

Signed for just £32m back in 2012, that transfer fee would easily be the equivalent of paying £200m+ nowadays. An absolute bargain.

Having the privilege of seeing him in person grace the hallowed turf of Stamford Bridge, ‘The Prince of the Bridge’ has become an iconic figure in SW6. And will become a legendary one very, very soon.

Already one of the greatest players to have ever played for Chelsea Football Club – if he stays at the club for the rest of his career – he has the potential to become the greatest ever.

Eden, Eden, Eden, Eden, Eden, Eden, Eden Hazard…

Honours
Premier League – 2014-15, 16-17
FA Cup – 2018
League Cup – 2014-15
UEFA Europa League – 2012-13
FIFA FIFPro World XI – 2018
Premier League Player of the Season – 2014-15
PFA Team of the Year – 2012-13, 13-14, 14-15, 16-17
PFA Young Player of the Year – 2013-14
UEFA Team of the Year – 2017, 2018
Chelsea Player of the Year – 2013-14, 14-15, 16-17
Chelsea Players’ Player of the Year – 2014-15
Chelsea Goal of the Year – 2015-16 (vs Tottenham), 16-17 (vs Arsenal)
FWA Footballer of the Year – 2014-15
FIFA World Cup Silver Ball – 2018
FIFA World Cup Top Assist Provider – 2018

Best Moment – vs Arsenal (Premier League), February 2017

The number of amazing goals that Hazard has scored over the years would take me too long to mention here. Goals against the likes of –

Tottenham.
Man City.
Man Utd.
Liverpool.
Everton.
Maribor.
Sparta Prague.

And those are just the ones that come to mind right now.

For me though, there has always only ever been one goal that is better than the rest.

Arsenal. At Home. THE solo goal.

It simply is a work of art that has no value on it as it is deemed priceless.

FLORENT MALOUDA

Photo Source: skysports.com

Joined – July 2007
Signed from – Lyon (£13m)
Appearances – 229
Goals – 45
Assists – 44

One of the more under-appreciated and underrated players during the ownership of our Russian billionaire, Florent Malouda contributed a decent amount during his six years in London.

Predominately playing from the left-side, Malouda was a reliable player for contributing with goals and assists, some of those will always be remembered in a good way.

This was most notable during the title-winning 2009-10 season, where alongside Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka, the trio helped Chelsea to a mind-blowing 103 goals in 38 games, whilst personally contributing 15 goals and 15 assists in all competitions.

A popular player during his time here, Malouda should be remembered in a far better light in my opinion.

Honours
Premier League – 2009-10
FA Cup – 2009, 2010, 2012
FA Community Shield – 2009
UEFA Champions League – 2011-12
Chelsea Players’ Player of the Year – 2009-10

Best Moment – vs West Ham United (Premier League), April 2011

A scorer of many good goals, Malouda standout goal was his ferocious top corner blast against West Ham United.

Once it left his foot, that ball flew into the goal like an unstoppable rocket. Blink and you’ll miss it.

ARJEN ROBBEN

Photo Source: FourFourTwo

Joined – July 2004
Signed from – PSV Eindhoven (£12.1m)
Appearances – 106
Goals – 19
Assists – 22

Of all the players to have left Chelsea too early in their career, the one that hurt the most (still does even as he’s never been replaced) was Arjen Robben.

If the circumstances at the time he left were much better, I genuinely believe the Dutch winger would have spent pretty much the majority (if not all) of his career in SW6.

Regarded as one of the best wingers in the world in this generation, being able to take on and beat defenders at the drop of a hat, Robben’s ability to get to the byline and deliver in accurate crosses instilled fear into any defence. Usually deployed on the right wing, Robben often cuts inside on his left foot to move to a more central attacking position, and uses his speed and dribbling skills to take on defenders until he found the perfect opportunity to score.

Robben was horrible to play against, which I absolutely loved to see.

Only seeing Robben in a Chelsea shirt for just three seasons is criminal. He deserved a much longer period here.

Honours
Premier League – 2014-15, 16-17
FA Cup – 2018
League Cup – 2014-15
Premier League Top Assist Provider – 2014-15

Best Moment – vs Newcastle Utd (League Cup 4th Round), November 2004

his goal against Newcastle United pretty much summed up what Robben was capable of in a Chelsea shirt.

Lightning pace, sublime ball control and ability to get past opponents with ease… Robben made everything look like it was a cakewalk for him.

WHO IS THE NUMBER ONE WINGER?

Eden Hazard.

Growing up, I believed that Gianfranco Zola was the most gifted Chelsea player I had ever seen. When Joe Cole signed, I believe he surpassed Gianfranco and raised the ‘game’ to another level.

Then Eden Hazard turned up. not only has he surpassed both of them, but he also has levels of talent that in my mind, the other two could never reach.

Which is scary to consider as Hazard is only now coming towards the supposed peak of his career, despite playing at this level of talent for nearly 7 years.

Frightening.

And the readers’ poll winner is:

Eden Hazard – 90%
(Other results: Arjen Robben – 6%, Joe Cole – 3%, Florent Malouda – 1%)

The only thing I’m surprised about in regards to the outcome of this poll was the fact that Hazard only got 90%.

That says it all for me.

We’ve arrived at the final playing position in the series.

The poacher. The ‘goalhanger’. The fox-in-the-box. The clinical finisher.

The striker.

Nothing is more satisfying in football than seeing your main striker score a fantastic goal. And here are four of the absolute best to do it ever since Roman Abramovich took ownership…

NICOLAS ANELKA

Photo Source: Guardian

Joined – January 2008
Signed from – Bolton Wanderers (£15m)
Appearances – 184
Goals – 59
Assists – 38

When first joining the club, a lot of fans were worried that the ‘Le Sulk’ version of Nicolas Anelka would turn up and thus underperform.

When he left the club four years later, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Whilst he did win the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid, Anelka’s best period as a player was undoubtedly in west London.

Whether deployed as the main central striker or as a winger on either flank, Anelka, contributed in a fantastic manner.

Pace, agility, excellent first touch, composure with and without the ball, not to mention chipping in with a bevvy of goals… Anelka more than justified his signing from Bolton Wanderers and definitely left a positive mark with the Chelsea faithful.

Honours
Premier League – 2009-10
FA Cup – 2009, 2010
FA Community Shield – 2009
PFA Team of the Year – 2008-09
Premier League Golden Boot – 2008-09

Best Moment – vs Sunderland (Premier League), May 2009

Whilst scoring many goals that were deemed a joy to see and watch, Anelka’s best was against Sunderland in May 2009.

Picked up from inside his own half, Anelka breezed past any Sunderland player that got close, before firing home a rocket from 25 yards out into the top corner.

DIEGO COSTA

Photo Source: The Times

Joined – July 2014
Signed from – Atlético Madrid (£32m)
Appearances – 120
Goals – 58
Assists – 24

Arrive. Cause chaos everywhere. Score a **** ton of goals. Leave.

That sentence is the perfect way to describe Diego Costa’s time in a Chelsea shirt. And I would want it all over again in a heartbeat.

“Diego Costa suits the Premier League down to the ground.”– Alan Shearer on Diego Costa

– Alan Shearer on Diego Costa

Ruthless aggression, supreme competitiveness, never say die attitude… Costa was a nightmare for any defender during his three years at the club. Defenders up and down the Premier League were glad to see the back of him, which says an awful lot to how good Costa was.

Easily the closest striker we had since Didier Drogba, the naturalised Spaniard was a fantastic signing from Atlético Madrid and is still dearly missed by the Chelsea fans even today.

Honours
Premier League – 2014-15, 16-17
League Cup – 2014-15
PFA Team of the Year – 2014-15

Best Moment – vs Manchester City (Premier League), December 2016

If there was ever a better moment to showcase what Diego Costa was all about in a Chelsea shirt, his goal against Manchester City is it.

DIDIER DROGBA

Photo Source: Action Images

Joined – July 2004
Signed from – Marseille (£24m)
Appearances – 381
Goals – 164 (Fourth highest all-time top goalscorer)
Assists – 81

Didier Drogba.

Where do I even begin with the great Ivorian?

Drogba was an absolute monster of a striker – he had everything you would want from a striker.

Speed, power, aggression, strength, amazing in the air, just as amazing with the ball at his feet, clinical finishing, excellent set-piece abilities, brilliant hold-up play… I could go on and on and on about how good Drogba. In fact, he wasn’t good, he was simply incredible.

He was also the big man for the big occasion, with a goalscoring record at club level of 10 goals in 10 finals winning 10 trophies. Frightening.

Peter Osgood, Bobby Tambling, Jimmy Greaves, Kerry Dixon, Roy Bentley. All amazing strikers that created amazing moments for Chelsea Football Club.

But for me, Didier Drogba is the best striker we have ever had. And possibly will ever have.

Honours
Premier League – 2004-05, 05-06, 09-10, 14-15
FA Cup – 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012
League Cup – 2004-05, 06-07, 14-15
FA Community Shield – 2005, 2009
UEFA Champions League – 2011-12
Chelsea Players’ Player of the Year – 2007
Chelsea Player of the Year – 2010
FA Cup Final Man of the Match – 2010
FIFPro World XI – 2007
FWA Tribute Award – 2015
Premier League Golden Boot – 2006-07, 09-10
Premier League Team of the Year – 2006-07, 09-10
Premier League Top Assist Provider – 2005-06
UEFA Champions League Final Man of the Match – 2012
UEFA Team of the Year – 2007

Best Moment – 2012 Champions League Final (vs Bayern Munich)

Didier Drogba. Champions League Final. Munich.

Do I need to say anything else?

EIDUR GUDJOHNSEN

Photo Source: Independent

Joined – June 2000
Signed from – Bolton Wanderers (£4.5m)
Appearances – 255
Goals – 76
Assists – 31

During the ‘Roman Abramovich era’, his name would go under the radar and possibly be forgotten. But Eidur Gudjohsnen shouldn’t be forgotten as his time at Stamford Bridge was filled with a lot of memorable moments.

Comfortable playing as the lone striker, as a support striker or even in central midfield, Gudjohnsen offered a tremendous amount both on and off the pitch.

Vision, great technique, tactical and positional awareness, composure in front of goal… ‘The Iceman’ certainly did not disappoint.

Honours
Premier League – 2004-05, 05-06
League Cup – 2004-05
FA Community Shield – 2000, 2005

Best Moment – vs Manchester United (Premier League), August 2004

Not the best Chelsea goal you’ll ever see, but is arguably one of the most important the club has ever scored.

Gudjohnsen’s goal against Manchester United on the opening day of the 2004-05 season, the first game of Jose Mourinho’s managerial reign as well, proved to be a catalyst of great things.

And boy were those ‘things’ great…

WHO IS THE NUMBER ONE STRIKER?

Didier Drogba.

Was there any doubt it was not going to be him?

The greatest striker to ever play for Chelsea and one of the best players to ever play for the club too.

Simply irreplaceable.

And the readers’ poll winner is:

Didier Drogba – 97%
(Other results: Diego Costa – 2%, Nicolas Anelka – 1%, Eidur Gudjohnsen – 0%)

The most one-sided poll of them all.

Let’s be honest… If Drogba’s sole contribution to Chelsea was the penalty in Munich, he would have still won the poll.

THE 25-MAN SQUAD & STARTING LINE-UP

Eden Hazard.
Arjen Robben.
Didier Drogba.

My God what a front-three that is. Would match any forward frontline on the planet right now, easily.

Pace, power, skill, goals. Frightening possibilities if these three played together in their primes.

MY personal 25-man squad and starting line-up (so far)

The starting line-up is now complete. For the remaining substitutes and squad members, I decided to go with Eidur Gudjohsen and Diego Costa filling the final two places on the bench, whilst Florent Malouda and Nicolas Anelka took the final two places in the overall squad.

Personally? I think my squad is incredible. More on that in the fifth and final part tomorrow.

YOUR personal 25-man squad and starting line-up (so far)

As for the readers…

You also went for Hazard, Drogba and Robben to be our forward frontline.

When it came to subs and squad members – going solely by the percentage numbers from the polls – Joe Cole and Diego Costa took the final substitute places, with Florent Malouda and Nicolas Anelka completing your squad.

So there we have it.

The full reveal of the starting line-ups and full squads that myself and you, the reader, chose, has happened.

2 fantastic line-ups, 2 fantastic squads.

Honestly? Very few teams would beat them.

Join me tomorrow for the fifth and final part of this series as we look back at all the players in one fell swoop, whilst revealing who will be the manager to manage ‘The best 25-man squad of the Roman Abramovich era.’

That choice might be a bit… Special.

• Part 1Intro/The Goalkeepers
• Part 2 – The Defenders
• Part 3 – The Midfielders
• Part 5 – The Squad/Starting Line-Up & The Manager

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6 thoughts on “The best 25-man squad of the Roman Abramovich era – Part 4

  1. Great series! Im still thinking on the midfield even as i type this. We have had some phenomenal MFs st the club. We need to get back to that and turn our fortunes around again.

    Like

    1. Thank you for the kind words! I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed reading this series – a lot of hard work went into putting this series together so any positive feedback means an awful lot.

      Hopefully we can get back to those days, sooner rather than later.

      Like

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