Who Would Win: Chelsea 2000s XI vs. Chelsea 2010s XI?

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistOctober 24, 2017

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM:  Chelsea's Manager Jose Mourinho (C) holds aloft the Barclays Premiership trophy beside Frank Lampard (L) and John Terry (R) during the celebrations after the game against Charlton at Stamford Bridge in London 07 May 2005. AFP PHOTO Adrian DENNIS No telcos, website uses subject to subscription of a license with FAPL on www.faplweb.com <http://www.faplweb.com>  (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Chelsea fans have been spoiled in the past decade or so. Don't believe us? Take a look at our matchup pitting the best of the best from the 2000s with the players that Blues managers have had to choose from in the 2010s.

It reads as a who's who of world football since the turn of the century. Chelsea have called upon some of the biggest names in the game to win five Premier League titles and the 2012 Champions League. There's been a glut of silverware outside of those trophies, too, as the Blues have won every major honour in European club football.

We've picked our respective XIs based on a simple method: Each player must have turned out for Chelsea in the selected decade, but they can't appear in both. That means John Terry from the 2000s can't come up against himself in the 2010s, for instance.

All that's left to decide now is which team would run out victorious. We'll leave that one up to you.


Chelsea 2000s

GK: Petr Cech

Chelsea's Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech is pictured during the FA Cup semi-final football match between Chelsea and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in north London on April 14, 2013. AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS

PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

Chelsea had three No. 1 goalkeepers in the 2000s, starting the decade with Ed de Goey and finishing it with Petr Cech. Sandwiched between them was Carlo Cudicini, and the ranking in terms of ability works in the same way, with Chelsea's goalkeepers getting progressively better.

Cech wasn't just a standout goalkeeper in the 2000s for Chelsea—he is one in the club's overall history. He was a cornerstone of the Blues' success from the moment he joined in 2004, and during his peak years, he was comfortably among the world's finest shot-stoppers.

That he recovered from a fractured skull to maintain his ability between the sticks says plenty about his character.


RB: William Gallas

London, UNITED KINGDOM:  (FILES) - A picture shows Chelsea's William Gallas saluting the crowd at the final whistle after he scored the winning goal in extra time during the English Premiership game between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge
JOHN D MCHUGH/Getty Images

Signed as a centre-back in 2001, William Gallas eventually played across the entire Chelsea back line as changes swept through Stamford Bridge with the arrival of Jose Mourinho in 2004. He eventually lost his place alongside Terry to Ricardo Carvalho, moving to left-back and then right-back.

It was the on right side of defence where he looked strongest under Mourinho, playing as a tougher alternative to Paulo Ferreira.

Gallas left the club under a cloud for Arsenal in 2006, but that shouldn't blemish what a fine player he was for Chelsea. So much so, we've followed Mourinho's approach by shoehorning him into our side at Ferreira's expense.


CB: Ricardo Carvalho

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 13:  Ricardo Carvalho of Chelsea in action during the E.on sponsored FA Cup 5th Round match between Chelsea and Cardiff City at Stamford Bridge on February 13, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

The yin to Terry's yang, the Portuguese defender really did bring a balance to Chelsea's back line. Following Mourinho from Porto in 2004, Carvalho was one of the manager's most important acquisitions in his entire Chelsea career.

Carvalho wasn't just a talented defender; he was a footballer and his more subtle approach complemented Terry to form a defensive partnership for the ages. He's among the finest defenders Chelsea have ever seen.


CB: John Terry

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 21:  John Terry of Chelsea poses with the Premier League Trophy after the Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on May 21, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

We can't talk about Chelsea in the 2000s without first thinking of Terry. Roman Abramovich, Mourinho and anyone else come second-best where the former captain is concerned.

Terry personified everything about the Blues during his time at the club. He was the connection to the past, present and future, playing such a vital role off the pitch to establish an identity at a time when football was undergoing rapid change.

Without him, the Chelsea we know today would look much different.


LB: Ashley Cole

Chelsea's English defender Ashley Cole gestures to Chelsea fans following the English Premier League football match between Cardiff City and Chelsea at the Cardiff City Stadium in Cardiff on May 11, 2014.  Chelsea won 2-1. AFP PHOTO/BEN STANSALL - RESTRIC

The best left-back of his generation in world football, peak Ashley Cole breezes his way into this team.

You have to feel for Wayne Bridge, who was challenging Cole for a starting place with the England side and was then faced with the same battle at club level when Cole arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2006.

The truth was, it was never going to be a contest. Cole had no peers at his position. He was outstanding and to think Arsenal allowed him to leave for just £5 million in a trade-off with Gallas going the other way. It was a move the Gunners regretted heavily.


CM: Michael Essien

Crystal Palace's English striker Cameron Jerome (L) vies with Chelsea's Ghanaian midfielder Michael Essien (R) during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge in London on December 14, 2013. Chelsea w
GLYN KIRK/Getty Images

When we look at the three-man midfield we've selected here, there's one notable name missing: Michael Ballack. It was a tough decision to leave him out and that says so much about the embarrassment of riches Chelsea enjoyed in the 2000s.

Essien gets the nod here and he personified more about what Chelsea were in this decade, especially under Mourinho. The Blues were about power and pummelling teams into submission, for which Essien was perfect.

Ballack had more grace and style, but he can't compete with peak Essien's ability to impose himself in midfield. With him alongside Claude Makelele, nothing is getting through.


CM: Claude Makelele

LONDON - FEBRUARY 10:  Claude Makelele of Chelsea runs with the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea v Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on February 10, 2008 in London, England.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

From the power of Essien to the wisdom of Makelele, Chelsea's midfield in the 2000s really was supreme. The pair only played together for two seasons, but watching them in full flow was salivating.

It was at this time that Chelsea championed the physical style that so made them fearless. Teams just couldn't compete, and from that, Chelsea earned their right to play football and unleash the more technically gifted players.

The way Makelele read the game and applied himself was unique. There are comparisons now between him and N'Golo Kante, but even the latter can still be found out of position and struggling to pick up opponents at times. With Makelele, that never happened.


CM: Frank Lampard

Chelsea's English midfielder Frank Lampard (L) celebrates after scoring Chelsea's second goal from the rebound after Stoke City's Bosnian goalkeeper Asmir Begovic saved Lampard's penalty kick during the English Premier League football match between Chelse
CARL COURT/Getty Images

Talk about balance in a midfield. We've already had the power and wisdom of Essien and Makelele, now we have the goals and panache of Frank Lampard. No wonder Ballack can't get into the team!

Let's be as direct with our analysis as a Lampard thunderbolt from the edge of the box—there hasn't been a better goalscoring midfielder in the Premier League. We'll go so far as to suggest there hasn't been a better one in English football.

The former No. 8 changed perceptions for players in his position and that says it all. When we look at midfielders today, it's still Lampard that they're compared with.


AM: Arjen Robben

LONDON - MARCH 06:  Arjen Robben of Chelsea celebrates scoring during the UEFA Champions League round of sixteen, second leg match between Chelsea and FC Porto at Stamford Bridge on March 6, 2007 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

When Mourinho's Chelsea were tearing teams limb from limb in his first spell as manager, it was players like Arjen Robben who were adding the polish to performances. Alongside Damien Duff, he was incredible on the wing as Chelsea countered teams, turning over possession for quick transitions.

Especially in that first season when Chelsea would become the 2004/05 champions, Robben was unstoppable. His pace punished opponents time and again. His presence really did give Chelsea everything they needed to be successful.


AM: Gianfranco Zola

SUNDERLAND -  APRIL 5:  Gianfranco Zola of Chelsea celebrates scoring the equalising goal during the FA Barclaycard Premiership match between Sunderland and Chelsea held on April 5, 2003 at the Stadium of Light, in Sunderland, England. Chelsea won the mat
Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

Given the partnership he had with Robben, Duff could feel hard done by for not making out the XI for the 2000s. Joe Cole is another, after he was instrumental in Chelsea winning two league titles, three FA Cups and reaching the Champions League final in 2008.

The problem that pair have is that they're going up against Gianfranco Zola, a bona fide Chelsea legend who offered all the things they did. Zola could break quickly like Duff and had the feet of genius to bamboozle defenders in tight spaces.

Admittedly, when the calendars turned from the 1990s to the new millennium, he wasn't perhaps peak Zola, but he was still an exceptional talent.


ST: Didier Drogba

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 24:  Didier Drogba of Chelsea celebrates with fans and the trophy  after the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on May 24, 2015 in London, England. Chelsea were crowned Premier League cham
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

As the 2000s went on, so Didier Drogba's vintage become ever finer in a Chelsea shirt. He looked like a misfit when he first arrived in 2004, but by the end of the decade, he had become an icon to surpass those before him such as Zola and Peter Osgood.

It was a complete turnaround from being a polarising figure—Drogba was spearheading Chelsea to trophies, making a name for himself by scoring in cup final after cup final as the Blues lifted two League Cups and three FA Cups by the end of 2010.

He had an uncanny ability to bounce back from problems, even finding some of his best form in a Chelsea shirt not long after recovering from a bout of malaria.

With Cech, Terry and Lampard, Drogba was the spine that made Chelsea great in a decade where they changed the face of English football.


Chelsea 2010s

GK: Thibaut Courtois

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 23:  Thibaut Courtois of Chelsea celebrates his side's first goal during the Premier League match between Stoke City and Chelsea at Bet365 Stadium on September 23, 2017 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Photo by Richard Hea
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

The current incumbent safeguarding the Chelsea goal, Courtois isn't that much different from Cech. He plays with his left foot for one, stands at over 6'5" tall and joined Chelsea when little was known about him.

Of course, Courtois soon came to prominence while on loan at Atletico Madrid, and upon his return to Chelsea in 2014, he displaced Cech as the first-choice stopper. Still only 25, he has the best days of his career ahead of him, giving Chelsea a strong option if they can maintain his services beyond his current contract.


RB: Branislav Ivanovic

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27:  Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea celebrates after the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Chelsea at St Mary's Stadium on February 27, 2016 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

For Branislav Ivanovic, think Gallas. He wasn't signed as a right-back, but it was on the flanks where he had to move if he was to ever become a regular at Stamford Bridge.

After a slow start to his Chelsea career—it took Ivanovic nine months to make his debut—he soon earned legend status with two goals at Anfield to deny Liverpool in the Champions League, not to mention later scoring the header that won Chelsea the Europa League in 2013.

He wasn't just a scorer of vital goals, though. Ivanovic's presence on the right ensured Chelsea's defence remained one of the Premier League's best, with his strength in the air adding to his all-round game that complemented the likes of Terry.


CB: David Luiz

Chelsea's Brazilian defender David Luiz celebrates after scoring during a UEFA Champions league group stage football match between Chelsea and Roma at Stamford Bridge in London on October 18, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Glyn KIRK        (Photo credit should read
GLYN KIRK/Getty Images

We've got David Luiz in the more familiar centre-back position from when he first joined Chelsea in 2011. Back then he was Terry's defensive partner, before becoming the libero in Antonio Conte's 3-4-3.

He's excelled at the latter, but in truth, Luiz remained a good option as part of a defensive pair also. There were some issues with his consistency, yet Chelsea's defensive alternatives besides him have never been as strong (Terry aside, of course).

Luiz played that Carvalho role well, providing some style to the substance of his defensive partner.


CB: Gary Cahill

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 12: Gary Cahill of Chelsea celebrate their win during the UEFA Champions League group C match between Chelsea FC and Qarabag FK at Stamford Bridge on September 12, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by TF-Images/TF-Images v
TF-Images/Getty Images

The current Chelsea captain, Gary Cahill was Luiz's partner for the Champions League final in 2012. Both were walking wounded having picked up injuries ahead of the game—indeed, Cahill had missed the FA Cup final because of his hamstring strain.

His performance in the Allianz Arena that night really set down a marker for his Blues career. He had gone from a relegation battle with Bolton Wanderers in January to a European champion in May. It was remarkable.

Since then he has gone from strength to strength to become one of Chelsea's key players in his time at Stamford Bridge.


LB: Cesar Azpilicueta

Chelsea's Spanish defender Cesar Azpilicueta celebrates scoring his team's third goal during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Watford at Stamford Bridge in London on October 21, 2017.
Chelsea won the match 4-2. / AFP PHOTO / I
IAN KINGTON/Getty Images

Here's another player we've had to shoehorn. But as Cesar Azpilicueta has shown, his playing at left-back is no concern for any Chelsea manager.

The Spaniard was signed as a right-back, and after ending Ashley Cole's Blues career, he made the left side his own for a couple of seasons. Indeed, so good was Azpilicueta, Filipe Luis' one season at Stamford Bridge proved a nightmare as he couldn't dislodge Azpilicueta.

He's now out of position again, playing as the right-sided defender of Chelsea's back three. But as usual, he looks perfectly at home.


CM: Cesc Fabregas

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27: Cesc Fabregas of Chelsea celebrates after he scores to make it 1-0 during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge on August 27, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Ima
Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

Now to raise some eyebrows and spark a proper debate. We acknowledge our midfield isn't conventional and one question that will be asked almost instantly is why Nemanja Matic doesn't make the cut. We'll get to that.

Let's look at Cesc Fabregas, though. He has been a fine servant since joining the Blues over three years ago. He was a major influence in Chelsea's 2014/15 title triumph and again last season, when he edged his way into the lineup in the second half of the season.

He has the vision and execution to start attacks from all over the pitch. His understanding with Diego Costa won Chelsea so many matches, and his inclusion in this team is designed to do the same for Eden Hazard and Pedro.


CM: N'Golo Kante

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 21: N'Golo Kante of Chelsea celebrates with the Premier League Trophy after the Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on May 21, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

So, Matic. Well, he doesn't make it in here because Kante does. The Frenchman has shown in the past year that he is far more capable at doing his job more effectively than Matic ever did for Chelsea. His defensive acumen is that much superior, and Kante is one of just a few defensive midfielders to be crowned PFA Player of the Year.

That award last season speaks volumes for what Kante has achieved in such a short space of time at Chelsea. Players often joke that having him in the team is like playing with an extra player as Kante mops up everything around him.

He influences Chelsea's style so much, allowing others play further forward in a way Matic never did.


CM: Juan Mata

Chelsea's Spanish midfielder Juan Mata celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge in London on May 19, 2013.  AFP PHOTO / CARL COURT

CARL COURT/Getty Images

The Matic debate will continue with Juan Mata as a three-man midfield leaves space for Matic to slot in on the left. We want creativity, though. And in Mata and Fabregas, the Chelsea of the 2010s have two creative players capable of playing deep in the way the team from the 2000s never could.

Mata's two-and-a-half years in west London saw him make a significant impact. He was named the club's Player of the Year twice on the back of performances that saw him inspire Chelsea to the Champions League final in 2012, following it up a year later with the Europa League.

The feeling is that his time at Chelsea came to a premature end when Mourinho sold him to Manchester United in January 2014. He lacked the physical attributes Mourinho craved at the time, but his ability on the ball alongside Fabregas would hint at the 2010s side controlling the game more and turning over quick transitions to pounce at any moment.


AM: Eden Hazard

Chelsea's Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard celebrates after scoring during a UEFA Champions league group stage football match between Chelsea and Roma at Stamford Bridge in London on October 18, 2017.  / AFP PHOTO / Adrian DENNIS        (Photo credit should

When Eden Hazard joined Chelsea in 2012, he was billed as the man the club would be built around. That building process is still ongoing, with the 26-year-old Hazard entering a time when players start reaching their peak.

For Chelsea fans, that means things couldn't be any more exciting. Just take the recent 2-1 defeat of Atletico Madrid in Spain, where Hazard dictated the flow of the game and set things up for the Blues to take all three points in their Champions League group.

He is their talisman, the one player who gets them moving in the final third and makes things happen.


AM: Pedro

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 21:  Pedro of Chelsea celebrates as he scores their first goal with Eden Hazard of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Watford at Stamford Bridge on October 21, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Richard
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

The ex-Barcelona man was seen as the saviour of Chelsea's transfer window in 2015 when the proverbial really hit the fan after their title success just a few months earlier.

So deep did the Blues' problems run, it was always going to take a whole lot more than Pedro to set things right. Because he didn't, however, it's always meant a question mark of doubt has followed him around.

That first season was tough, yet he bounced back to prove his value last term as Chelsea ran out surprise title winners. Not only did he chip in with assists, Pedro scored some big goals at vital stages, notably his equaliser against Spurs at Stamford Bridge that put Chelsea in the ascendancy.

Alongside Hazard, his pace and skill when moving at top speed give Chelsea an edge.


ST: Diego Costa

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 27:  Diego Costa of Chelsea celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 1-1 during the Emirates FA Cup Final match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on May 27, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/G
Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Oh, Diego, it could have all been so different. Like Drogba before him, Costa struggled to settle in England with the attention he received from the media. Drogba himself had one eye on a switch back to his beloved club (Marseille) in the early days of his Chelsea career, and it proved the same for Costa, who pined for a move back to Atletico.

After a summer-long standoff with Chelsea this year, he's finally got his wish after Atletico agreed for his transfer in January.

It's all left a sour taste as Costa's off-field problems are at odds with what he achieved on it. He was Chelsea's leading goalscorer in each of his three seasons and his record in front of goal was set to outdo Drogba's in nine seasons. He just needed the time to live up to Drogba's reputation as the Blues had a player who seemed capable of achieving more than Drogba ever did.

We'll never know if Costa would've gone on to do that, but what we do know is that he remains a world-class goalscorer and the Blues are weaker without him.


Go to @BRfootball and vote in the poll for your winner.


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