Team of the Decade: Chelsea

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Chelsea
MUNICH, GERMANY - MAY 19: Didier Drogba of Chelsea salutes the fans after the UEFA Champions League Final between FC Bayern Munich and Chelsea at the Fussball Arena Munich on May 19, 2012 in Munich, Germany. The match ended 1-1 after extra time, Chelsea won 4-3 on penalties. (Photo by Bob Thomas Sports Photography via Getty Images)

Welcome to Last Word on Football’s team of the decade series. Chelsea made an excellent start to the decade winning the Premier League and FA Cup double under Carlo Ancelotti in 2010. The Blues couldn’t repeat their success in 2011, finishing second to Manchester United, but they did secure the first of their two FA Cups in that season.

The club’s defining moment of the decade came in 2012 as they won their first-ever Champions League final. Chelsea beat Bayern Munich on penalties in a dramatic final. They also won the FA Cup this year under Roberto Di Matteo. Chelsea could not reclaim the Champions League success in 2013 but won the Europa League under Rafa Benitez.

Two titles in two years then came. First, returning legend Jose Mourinho led the team to Premier League success in 2015 and Antonio Conte repeated the feat in 2017. Conte led Chelsea to another FA Cup in 2018, while Maurizio Sarri won the Europa League for a second time in 2019, beating Arsenal 4-1 in the final.

Former player Frank Lampard re-joined the club as manager and is currently re-building with his young squad following a transfer embargo.

Chelsea Team of the Decade

Manager: Roberto Di Matteo

Quality managers led Chelsea between 2010-19, and many are more high-profile than former Italian international Roberto Di Matteo. The likes of Carlo Ancelotti, Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho oversaw Premier league winning seasons, in addition to a host of domestic cup titles. However, none of these managers matched Di Matteo’s achievement of guiding Chelsea to their first Champions League in 2012.

The Blues’ win over Barcelona in the semi-final was a memorable moment of the decade, but victory over Bayern Munich in the final, with an injury-stricken squad and a number of fringe players, was a sensational achievement in itself. Di Matteo also won the FA Cup in 2012 but was dismissed in November of that year and replaced by Rafa Benitez. The decision was unpopular with fans and brought a bitter end to the Italian’s successful eight-month stint as Chelsea manager.

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper – Petr Cech

Cech was Chelsea’s number one for over a decade. He joined the club in 2004 and quickly established himself as the first-choice keeper for the Blues. He made nearly 500 appearances for the club and kept 228 clean sheets. He saved Arjen Robben‘s penalty in extra time during the 2012 Champions League final and also kept out Ivica Olić‘s penalty in the decisive shoot-out.

Right Back – Cesar Azpilicueta

Known affectionately as ‘Dave’ by Chelsea fans, Azpilicueta established himself as Chelsea’s starting right back after joining from Olympique Marseille in 2012. The Spaniard is now the club captain and made over 350 appearances for Chelsea. In addition to his committed defensive contributions for the club and his exceptional reading of the game, Azpilicueta demonstrated plenty of attacking quality. In his Chelsea career, he set up 45 goals and scored 13 in his eight years at Stamford Bridge.

Centre Back – John Terry

Perhaps the best captain in Chelsea history, John Terry led the club to 16 titles in over 700 appearances. Terry was made captain in 2004 and held the armband until his retirement in 2017 and became the face of Chelsea for almost two decades. He was known for his no-nonsense, body on the line approach and was the first captain for the Blues to win the Premier League and FA Cup double in 2010. Terry finished his Chelsea career as the Premier League’s top-scoring defender. He ended with a guard of honour in the 26th minute on the final day of the 2016/17 season at Stamford Bridge against Sunderland; a fitting send-off for the legendary centre back.

Centre Back – Gary Cahill

Another absolute rock in the Chelsea defence, Gary Cahill epitomised professionalism alongside Terry for nearly five years. In his seven-and-a-half years in West London, Cahill won everything in elite football, including the Champions League and FA Cup double at the end of his first half a season at the club. Cahill took the captain’s armband after Terry’s departure in 2017 and was a fitting replacement. He captained the team to FA Cup success in 2018 and the Europe League title in 2019 before leaving the club last summer.

Left Back – Ashley Cole

Cole occupied the left-back position at Chelsea for nearly a decade between 2006 and 2014 and made 338 appearances for the club. Referred to as the best left-back to represent England, Cole was a key feature in Chelsea’s defence and won five trophies with the club. He played a big part in the 2-2 away draw with Barcelona on the way to Champions League success in 2012, assisting Fernando Torres‘ late winner at the Camp Nou, sending the fans into raptures as they reached the final.

Right Midfield – Eden Hazard

Midfielder Eden Hazard won Player of the Year four times at Chelsea following his transfer from Lille in 2012. No other player won the award more times than this. The tricky Belgian winger often got fans on their feet with his flair and creativity and won the Goal of the Season award on three occasions in his Chelsea career. He scored 110 goals for the club, including 16 in 2016/17 and 2018/19. Hazard won two Premier League titles, one FA Cup and the Europa League before leaving for Real Madrid in 2019.

Centre Midfield – Frank Lampard

Another Chelsea legend who scored the most goals for the club between 2010 and 2019, despite leaving in 2014. Lampard was the heartbeat of Chelsea’s midfield for 14 years and made nearly 650 appearances for the club. He won ten major trophies with the club and led the team as captain in Munich for the 2012 Champions League final in Terry’s absence. Lampard returned to Stamford Bridge as head coach at the beginning of the season, a fitting return for Super Frank.

Centre Midfield – N’Golo Kante

Chelsea fielded a number of industrious centre midfielders over the last decade, but Kante’s consistency for the Blues is unbeatable. Kante left Premier League title winners Leicester City in 2016 and lifted the trophy the following year in a Chelsea shirt. The Frenchman played a big part in the 2016/17 title-winning campaign, making 35 appearances and was subbed just once in that season. Kante’s consistency saw him win the Player of the Season award in 2018 and the Player’s Player award in 2017.

Left Midfield – Juan Mata

It’s difficult to remember Juan Mata not playing for Manchester United this decade. But, he was a key player for the Blues in the early part of the 2010s. The creative Spaniard won consecutive Player of the Year awards in 2012 and 2013 in just two-and-a-half years at the club. Mata was extremely popular at Stamford Bridge. He created 58 goals and scored 32 in 135 appearances for Chelsea. He wrote himself into Chelsea folklore with an inch-perfect corner for Didier Drogba in the 2012 Champions League final to take the game to extra time.

Striker – Didier Drogba

Former Ivory Coast striker Drogba was synonymous with Chelsea’s success over the past two decades. He scored 164 goals in two spells at Stamford Bridge, but his exploits in the 2012 Champions League final secured his heroic status among Chelsea fans. His towering header in the 88th-minute set up extra time against Bayern Munich and he then stepped up and smashed in the winning penalty to secure the Blues’ first-ever Champions League. Drogba was voted Man of the Match and provided Chelsea fans with their defining moments of the last decade.

Striker – Diego Costa

Spanish striker Diego Costa splits opinion amongst Chelsea fans due to his isolation from the squad under Jose Mourinho, eventually forcing a transfer back to Athletico Madrid in 2018. However, Costa was imperious at Chelsea, scoring 58 goals in 120 appearances for the Blues over three seasons. He scored 20 goals in 2014/15 and 2016/17 for Chelsea to help the club win two of their three Premier League titles last decade.

Substitutes

Thibaut Courtois

Branislav Ivanovic

Marcos Alonso

Cesc Fabregas

Michael Essien

John Obi Mikel

Willian

 

Main Photo

 

 

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