Gary Cahill was superb last season and was a major part of Chelsea’s strong defence. He went to the World Cup in great form and was considered England’s best centre-half. Cahill still has that title, however he is losing his place at Chelsea, with former England captain outshining him this season, while French youngster Kurt Zouma is also making an impact on the first team. Many believe that Chelsea may opt to sign a new centre-back in the summer after the performances of Cahill have deteriorated in the last few months.
The league leaders haven’t kept as many clean sheets as they would expect to with their defence being as strong as it is, in fact they have only kept two in their last six league matches, prior to the Hull game. To compare Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Southampton have all had more shut outs over the same period, and this will worry Mourinho who prides himself on his ability to organise a side. Although Chelsea have been impressive in the league, Mourinho will be disappointed with their inability to challenge in the Champions League, and he will have seen his defence to be a big reason for that.
Before the Hull game, Chelsea had only recorded two clean sheets from the last eight matches in all competitions when Gary Cahill had started. Kurt Zouma has been getting more and more first team football and that may reflect on Cahill’s form. The England international was particularly poor against Bradford City as the League 1 side knocked the Premier League leaders out of the FA Cup. Although Cahill scored, he looked like he struggled physically against Jon Stead and he continued to make errors throughout the match. This season, Cahill hasn’t tackled as well as he did last season.
This season, he has failed in 23 attempted tackles, which is already more than last season when he only failed in 17 of his attempted tackles. This highlights how his tackling has gone backwards over the last year, and is reflected in his fouls committed which stands at 16 this season, already four more than last season. Cahill needs to regain the consistency he showed last season, or he could be relegated to a back up in Mourinho’s squad, which will be a huge negative given Cahill’s career has been on an upwards trajectory for the last few seasons
It is also interesting to note that Gary Cahill was one of the most consistent defenders last season and rightfully went to the World Cup as one of the key players in the England squad. He didn’t make one defensive error last season, while this season he has already made 4, with one leading directly to a goal conceded. Although Chelsea have improved as a side this season, Cahill has regressed, and that is a worry for Mourinho who will have seen the former Aston Villa and Bolton man as John Terry’s long term successor and perhaps even a potential Chelsea captain.
The remaining months of the season are key for Cahill and his long term future as he must convince Mourinho that he doesn’t have to strengthen at centre-back in the summer. He needs to become more consistent, especially when tackling as he was so reliable last season, but now the inexperienced Kurt Zouma is emerging as a more reliable partner for John Terry. Gary Cahill has had a number of good games this season, but he has also had a number of poor ones, which need to be eradicated as he could find himself frozen out at Chelsea in a similar fashion to Joleon Lescott at Manchester City. Cahill was both a future England and Chelsea captain next season as he shone next to John Terry. If he returns to that form, he could still reach those heights.