Chelsea: Full Report Card for Every Position for August
Chelsea have started their Premier League campaign in the best possible fashion, with three wins from three putting them top of the table heading into the international break.
Several big names did not make an appearance for the Blues in August and will be hoping for a chance when the cup competitions kick in, while others have left on loan for the remainder of the season.
Jose Mourinho will have been satisfied with the overall performance of his team but will spend his downtime identifying the players who need to improve individually. In fact, there is a good chance that he is drawing up a report card not too dissimilar from this one right now.
Grades are assigned to players who were involved in any of the matches over August and are based on contributions in those games. Goals and assists are weighted higher for defenders and substitutes, and players who are able to cover more than one position are placed where they are likely to make the most appearances throughout the season.
Players who are yet to make even a cameo appearance have been assigned a "U" for "ungraded" with a brief report on their prospects for the rest of the season.
Goals Conceded: 4
Courtois won the battle of the keepers ahead of the opening game at Burnley and looks likely to hang on to the No. 1 spot for the foreseeable future. He has made six saves in three games, with a ratio of 1.5 per goal conceded, per Squawka.com.
As assured as his performances have been, there is still room for the 22-year-old to improve, as the three goals conceded at Everton showed. However, he should continue his run in the league when he returns from international duty.
Cech has handled his relegation to the bench well and has spent his free time trolling people on Twitter. Having revealed on deadline day that he would be staying at Chelsea, the veteran stopper should make an appearance when the cup competitions kick in after the international break.
Schwarzer will be Chelsea’s third-choice keeper this season and is unlikely to make more than a handful of appearances at most. However, the experience he brings to the bench will be invaluable if Mourinho loses both Cech and Courtois to injury.
Two-goal Branislav Ivanovic has been at it again, grabbing a goal apiece against Everton and Burnley. He has averaged two tackles and interceptions per game while making 10 clearances.
There are only two factors keeping him from the highest grade of A+: His passing accuracy is slightly below average at 80 percent, and his bombing forward to score has left the right flank exposed on the counter several times. Other than that, it looks as though Ivanvovic will keep his starting spot at right-back when the league returns.
Azpilicueta has continued on from last season, playing out of position at left-back. His defensive contribution has been impressive, as he has made 12 tackles and 16 clearances while catching two opponents offside.
However, he has only managed the same level of passing accuracy as Ivanovic at 80 percent, with only one of those passes being classed as "key." Azpilicueta will need to improve his attacking contribution if he is to avoid running the risk of being replaced by Filipe Luis in the starting XI.
Goals Conceded: 4
Cahill’s partnership with John Terry has shown very little weakness so far, and both have made an impressive start to the season. Cahill’s 25 clearances and four blocked shots have gone some way to helping the Blues top the league, as have his seven offsides won.
The only cause for concern for Mourinho will come over the fact that his tried-and-tested centre-back pairing have already leaked four goals this season, but Cahill’s place should be safe for now.
Goals Conceded: 4
Terry has shown no signs of age catching up with him as he has made seven tackles and 27 clearances in three games this season. His passing accuracy is an average 84 percent, and with no real candidates to take over the captain’s armband it will take an injury to dislodge Terry from the starting XI.
Plenty of supporters expected Zouma to spend at least half the season on loan to gain experience, but he has remained at the club until January at least. He could get a run out in the Capital One Cup, possibly alongside his fellow youngster Andreas Christensen.
Christensen joins Zouma in providing cover from the bench in case of defensive emergencies between now and January. He could feature in the Capital One Cup tie against Bolton but may find that he will have to wait even longer for his full debut.
Appearances: 0 + 1
Luis made his competitive debut for the Blues when he replaced Eden Hazard at Everton. Although he was only given 10 minutes or so to make an impression, he still managed to make a tackle, an interception and a clearance, and if he makes an impression while on international duty he could make his way into the starting XI.
Chelsea supporters agree but will never admit that the one good thing that Rafa Benitez did was to bring Nathan Ake through into the first team. The Dutchman was impressive in pre-season, and his versatility means that he could make an appearance before the end of September.
Matic’s goal against Everton was the pick of the bunch, and his assist for Ramires was also a beauty. However, he has been most impressive in his role as a holding midfielder, making 12 tackles and nine clearances so far this season, with a passing accuracy of 82 percent.
As long as he stays fit, Matic will play a pivotal part for Chelsea this season.
Fabregas has been the best buy of the summer for Chelsea. It became clear during pre-season that he had not lost any of the ability that he showed while at Arsenal, and he has only improved in the three Premier League games so far.
He started the Everton game in a more advanced position, but the partnership he has forged with Matic in the centre of midfield has been a revelation. Four assists from three games and 10 key passes with an overall accuracy of 88 percent show that he could make the difference for the Blues this season.
Fabregas’ arrival has turned Ramires into a fringe player, which seems to have spurred him on. Handed his first start of the season against Everton, he provided two assists and scored one for himself, although his erratic positioning often left the defence exposed on the counter.
He is unlikely to get back into the starting XI regularly unless Mourinho opts for a 4-3-3, but he could play a part in the cup competitions.
John Obi Mikel
Mikel has been sidelined by the partnership between Fabregas and Matic and will likely make most of his appearances from the bench this season.
His cheeky backheeled assist for Diego Costa’s second at Everton is unlikely to mitigate the fact that there are better players ahead of him in his preferred position, but he could play a role in one of the domestic cup competitions.
Oscar started against Burnley and Leicester but was rested for the trip to Everton. As usual, much of his influence came off the ball, as he made seven tackles and three clearances, but his attacking contribution has left much to be desired.
His passing accuracy of 85 percent is around the team average, but his one key pass per game will need to improve if he is to remain Mourinho’s favoured No.10.
Hazard has continued to perform in the manner that won him the Chelsea Player of the Year award last year. So far he has scored one goal himself, forced an own goal and made 10 key passes and completed 16 dribbles.
Although he has increased his defensive contribution and made four interceptions, there is still room for him to improve this aspect of his game throughout the rest of the season.
Willian made his first start of the season against Everton, having been used as an impact substitute in the previous fixtures. Despite only getting limited minutes, he has managed seven tackles and was unlucky not to score with a beautiful strike against Leicester City.
If Oscar is dropped from the starting XI, Willian will be in close competition with Andre Schurrle for his place.
Schurrle has carried his World Cup form into the new season, registering an impressive 11 shots in his two appearances. He has also completed 85 percent of his passes and three dribbles while making three tackles.
Schurrle’s finishing ability puts him in line for a role up front in an emergency, but he will need to continue working at the same rate if he is to keep his place in the team for now.
Salah is yet to make a Premier League appearance for Chelsea this season and is again facing stiff competition. The attacking midfield has become even more competitive when Cesc Fabregas’ ability to play in the No. 10 role is taken into account, and Salah is likely to find his chances limited in the short term.
It is still early days, but it looks as though Diego Costa may actually live up to the hype surrounding his transfer and the £32 million fee that Chelsea paid for him. He has scored in every game, with his nine total shots producing four goals.
However, he has not shirked his defensive duties, making four tackles and five clearances so far. The only slight concern is that his aggressive attitude may lead him to suspension sooner rather than later.
Drogba’s return seems to have galvanised the dressing room, as he gave the team talk before the Everton game. However, his impact on the pitch has been limited by his age, and he is unlikely to pick up many more minutes in the near future. With the arrival of Loic Remy to provide backup to Costa, Dorgba will have to accept that he is more likely to lead the team in training than in competitive games.