Gary Cahill is an average-yet-sometimes-amazing-but-also-frustrating player. I couldn't find one word to describe him, so I resorted to constructing a word not actually recognized by the Oxford dictionary but somewhat accurate when describing the Blues man.
If Chelsea were to make a PowerPoint presentation on their roller coaster season, it would be Cahill who would appear on the front slide. Every defender has his off day, but his performances are at a high level the majority of the time and go some way to explain why the Blues shelled out the best part of £7 million to prize him away from Bolton Wanderers just over a year ago.
Clayton Donaldson was put through by his teammates and as he was about to pull the trigger against nervy keeper Ross Turnbull. However, his determination to make the challenge allowed to get across and deny the former Crewe striker.
Fernando Torres then equalized for Chelsea to make it 2–2 and they play Brentford on Sunday in the replay at Stamford Bridge. Many wouldn't realize the impact Cahill's challenge could have made on their season, but perhaps they would if Chelsea win the FA Cup.
Overall, Cahill and his defensive partner John Terry had a poor game. For two England international center backs to be playing against lower league opposition, they should have done a lot better. Their marking and positioning was, at some periods in the game, way below-par. Terry, who had returned from injury, was understandably struggling to make an impression.
The clearance showed just how quickly Cahill can go from villain to hero, and why he can be something of a key presence in the side. That being said, he can also be the architect of his own downfall.
Many would point to his worst performance of the season being in the Club World Cup Final where Cahill was bullied around by Paolo Guerrero, scorer of the only goal as Corinthians beat Chelsea 1–0 in Japan.
In addition to that, he was involved in an incident with winger Emerson at the end of the game which earned him a slightly-earlier bath than his teammates.
The Brazilian left his foot in a tackle and caught Cahill. But his frustrations boiled over, and he lashed out. The contact from the 27-year-old was not enough to produce the reaction from Emerson, but in a game of its stature and importance to the Blues, he let down his Chelsea colleagues.
It was almost uncannily like the incident involving John Terry in the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona, showing his naivety by striking Alexis Sanchez in the back, earning a red card and banned from the Final.
At times, he has been undervalued, especially when David Luiz had been going through a tough time. But now the Brazilian has found his feet, he's taking the plaudits, while Cahill settles into a more quiet and unnoticed role.
Playing for Chelsea has given him a new edge to his play; his six goals this season is the most of all Chelsea defenders: Branislav Ivanovic has also scored six times but played two more games, free-kick specialist David Luiz has four and John Terry has just one in 13 in what can only be described as a 'bit-part' season for the former England captain.
Either way, Cahill could find himself warming the bench if the Terry-Luiz partnership starts to blossom again, but there's no doubt that that he will give his all in every game he plays, even it's from the bench. Northern players seem to have a fighting spirit installed into them at a young age, and they just love to play, even it's for only a short spell of the game.
Cahill may not be the most glamorous name at Stamford Bridge, and I'm sure he knows that. But unlike some others in the side, you'll never see a half-hearted effort from Gary Cahill.
And that cannot be taken away from him.
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