Time to celebrate the best players (& manager) to play under our ‘Russian Revolution’
By Terry Sazio
So here we are, the final part of this feature series.
In the previous four parts, I revealed what players made my and your (the readers) best-25 man squads in the era of our owner, Roman Arkadyevich Abramovich.
Some choices were guaranteed, some were intriguing and some that were completely surprising – both in being included and being left out.
Before I once again show you the starting line-ups, substitutes and squad members in each squad, here are the players that made it into the respective squads…
(**Stats correct as of 15th March 2019)
• Petr Čech – 494 Appearances, 228 Clean Sheets
• Thibaut Courtois – 154 Appearances, 58 Clean Sheets
• Carlo Cudicini – 208 Appearances, 97 Clean Sheets
• César Azpilicueta – 323 Appearances, 8 Goals, 41 Assists**
• *Wayne Bridge – 142 Appearances, 4 Goals, 11 Assists
• Gary Cahill – 289 Appearances, 25 Goals, 7 Assists**
• Ricardo Carvalho – 210 Appearances, 11 Goals, 6 Assists
• Ashley Cole – 338 Appearances, 7 Goals, 38 Assists
• David Luiz – 235 Appearances, 17 Goals, 12 Assists**
• Branislav Ivanović – 377 Appearances, 34 Goals, 34 Assists
• John Terry – 717 Appearances, 67 Goals, 12 Assists
* = Wayne Bridge only appears in the readers’ squad
• Michael Ballack – 167 Appearances, 25 Goals, 24 Assists
• Michael Essien – 256 Appearances, 25 Goals, 18 Assists
• Cesc Fabregas – 198 Appearances, 22 Goals, 57 Assists
• N’Golo Kanté – 131 Appearances, 7 Goals, 7 Assists**
• Frank Lampard – 648 Appearances, 211 Goals, 150 Assists
• Claude Makélélé – 216 Appearances, 2 Goals, 6 Assists
• *John Obi Mikel – 372 Appearances, 6 Goals, 13 Assists
* = John Obi Mikel only appears in the readers’ squad
• Nicolas Anelka – 184 Appearances, 59 Goals, 38 Assists
• Joe Cole – 280 Appearances, 40 Goals, 42 Assists
• Diego Costa – 120 Appearances, 58 Goals, 24 Assists
• Didier Drogba – 381 Appearances, 164 Goals, 81 Assists
• Eidur Gudjohnsen – 255 Appearances, 76 Goals, 31 Assists
• Eden Hazard – 338 Appearances, 105 Goals, 86 Assists**
• Florent Malouda – 229 Appearances, 45 Goals, 44 Assists
• Juan Mata – 135 Appearances, 32 Goals, 58 Assists
• Arjen Robben – 106 Appearances, 19 Goals, 22 Assists
27 players of nothing but exceptional talent right there.
As for 27 players being listed and not 25 – that’s solely down to choice making. The squads themselves are maximum 25. Two players in each squad were picked by one but not by the other.
HOW THE LINE-UPS/SQUADS WERE CONSTRUCTED
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.
Let’s show and analyse them…
THE READERS’ SQUAD
As you can see, there are a lot of similarities between each line-up, set of substitutes and the players that fill up the rest of the squad.
The goalkeeper (Cech) and defence (Ivanovic, Terry, Carvalho, Ashley Cole) are the exact same, whilst the forward line (Robben, Drogba, Hazard) is also the same three players chosen by both myself and the readers.
It’s in the midfield where we see differences. Frank Lampard 1000% deserves to be in the teams, so that was a no brainer for both parties involved. As for the other two spots in midfield, the difference shows what sort of midfield they want and how they want the team to play in my opinion.
I decided to have a midfield consisting of one all-rounder, one that was explosive/combative (Michael Essien) and the final one being a deep-lying playmaker (Cesc Fabregas). This, for me, ticks all the boxes in terms of what would you want from your midfield.
Goals. Creativity. Vision. Technique. Power… A dream midfield for me.
As for the readers – you chose Frank Lampard, Claude Makelele and Michael Ballack as your go-to midfield trio in the starting line-up.
Goals, power, guile, efficiency – a fantastic midfield right there.
As explained earlier and throughout the series, the readers’ squad would be more ‘traditional’ than mine. That way, you’ll have the ‘two players for every position’ situation in play.
With this taken into consideration – I decided to have only one defender on my bench and that was César Azpilicueta, mainly due to Azpilicueta’s versatility of being able to play across the entire defensive line. As for my midfielder subs – I went for the dynamism of Kante, the technical brilliance of Mata and the pure, natural talent of Joe Cole. Finally, from a forward line perspective – I went for a mixture of ice-cold composure (Gudjohnsen) and ruthless aggression (Costa), with them both also being clinical goalscorers.
For the readers, your subs are based purely on the %’s gained in the polls – which lead to Courtois, Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Essien, Mata, Joe Cole and Diego Costa.
In regards to the squad members for both squads, it was pretty much a case of who was left over from all the players that were nominated in each section.
The final members to complete my squad consisted of Cudicini, Cahill, David Luiz, Makelele, Ballack, Malouda and Anelka.
For the readers – the final seven members were Cudicini, Cahill, Bridge, Mikel, Kante, Malouda and Anelka.
THE FINAL COMPARISON – WHAT TEAM WOULD WIN?
That’s way too tough to call. Toss of a coin in terms of difference for me. What’s your opinion?
A few managers have helped Chelsea achieved success over the last 15 years or so.
And whilst the likes of Carlo Ancelotti (Premier League and FA Cup double), Roberto Di Matteo (Champions League), Rafa Benitez (Europa League), Antonio Conte (Premier League/FA Cup) and even Guus Hiddink (FA Cup), all have cases to be the manager for this squad…
There can have only ever been one.
The Special One.
The most successful manager in the history of Chelsea Football Club.
“We have top players and, sorry if I’m arrogant, we have a top manager.”Jose Mourinho
Managerial Reigns – July 2004 to Sept 2007 & June 2013 to Dec 2015
Games – 320
Wins – 204
Draws – 65
Losses – 51
Goals – 588 (F), 259 (A)
Win Percentage % (All Comps.) – 58.12%
Premier League – 2004-05, 05-06, 14-15
FA Cup – 2007
League Cup – 2004-05, 14-15
FA Community Shield – 2005
Premier League Manager of the Season – 2004-05, 05-06
Best Moment – vs Barcelona (Champions League Round of 16, 2nd Leg), March 2005
This was the game for me where I genuinely believed our time for glory and dominance was indeed coming.
I was hopeful the good times were coming. After this match, Jose made me believe that it was coming.
THE FINAL VERSION OF EACH SQUAD (WITH MANAGER)
THE LAST WORD ON ROMAN ABRAMOVICH
With everything that has been said, admired, appreciated and shown gratitude for… none of this, and I mean NONE of this wouldn’t have happened with Roman Abramovich.
The calibre of players.
Without Abramovich coming to save the club nearly sixteen years ago, I genuinely have no idea what the future of the club would have been.
If there would have been a future even.
The time, ambition and money that he has devoted towards Chelsea has turned us into one of the most successful teams in Europe and the club would not be what it is today without his influence.
With all of this taken into consideration, I’m going to end it here by saying one last thing…
Thank you, Roman. (Спасибо, Роман)
So that’s it, the end of the feature series. This series was so much fun to write for you, the readers. Was an absolute joy.
Thank so you much for reading, hope you enjoyed it.