Premier League

Gary Cahill Should Be Next Chelsea Captain

 • by Thomas McIlroy
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“Last week I announced that this will be my last season as a Chelsea player,” John Terry wrote in the programme for last night’s game against Southampton.

“It was the toughest decision I have made in my life and an incredibly emotional one, but it was important to me to make sure when I eventually departed, I did so at the best time for me and the club.

“I believe this is the right moment.”

It’s hard to imagine Chelsea led by anyone else but Terry, captain, leader, legend.

Since Roman Abramovich’s arrival which has led the Blues to so much modern-day success, Terry has always been there at the forefront of every great Chelsea achievement.

But after this season, he will be there no more and that leaves a massive hole in the Chelsea squad.

And Gary Cahill should be the man to fill it.

READ MORE: John Terry: A Premier League Star Like No Other

The case for Cahill

The England centre-half has really stepped up as Antonio Conte arrived and switched a 3-4-3 for Chelsea this season.

He has been part of a defence that won 13 Premier League games in a row earlier this season, and has really got a new lease of life as the left centre-back.

With Terry playing a much more reduced role this season, the Blues needed someone to step up.

And Cahill has done just that.

He has seven goals in all competitions this season, and many of them have been hugely crucial.

The Blues were drawing 1-1 at Stoke back in March and looked like dropping points with Tottenham Hotspur on a relentless march behind them.

But in the 87th minute, captain Cahill was there to fire home when the Potters failed to clear a Cesc Fàbregas corner.

He earlier had given away a penalty – a somewhat harsh decision from referee Anthony Taylor – but made up for it at the other end.

That’s something leaders do.

And yesterday’s match against Southampton just showed why it is Cahill who is the leader of this current Chelsea team.

The Blues were struggling after former Chelsea man Oriol Romeu had cancelled out Eden Hazard’s opener and it looked like it would be all level going into half-time.

Stamford Bridge was nervy, knowing any dropped points would give Tottenham Hotspur real hope in the title race.

But then, with seconds left in the first-half, Cahill rose and despite Diego Costa’s foot flying in the air as the forward tried an other head kick, he got there first and headed Chelsea in front.

READ MORE: 6 Possible Replacements for John Terry at Chelsea

That killed Southampton and helped the Blues to what became a comfortable 4-2 win, putting the pressure on Spurs ahead of their game at Crystal Palace.

It felt like something Terry would do.

And that’s the role Cahill now has.

In fact, the 31-year-old now has 26 Premier League goals, which is the second most of any defender after Terry’s 40.

The case against Cahill

Obviously, although Cahill is Chelsea’s vice-captain and has taken the captain’s armband for most of this season, there are other options for the role.

His age obviously doesn’t go in his favour.

At 31, he is not going to be the long-term captain like Terry, but that may not be what Chelsea need right now.

What’s more, whether he is guaranteed a starting place next season is not certain.

While he was part of an impressive Chelsea defence earlier in the season, now they are on a horrendous run of conceding goals.

Conte’s side look incapable of keeping clean sheets and that will not please the Italian.

You will expect him to make some changes next season, and perhaps Cahill could be at risk.

Nathan Aké played in Cahill’s left centre-back role against Tottenham in the FA Cup semi-final and looked more than assured.

Perhaps, given a full preseason under Conte, he could prove himself and nudge the England international out of the starting XI, but that is a big if.

Cahill was written off by many, but he has hugely improved under the Italian and anyone taking his place will have to be performing at the top level week in, week out to keep him out of the team.

Other candidates

With Cahill suffering from gastroenteritis, it was César Azpilicueta who took the captain’s armband in the victory against Spurs at Wembley.

READ MORE: César Azpilicueta: The Chelsea Defender Is Up There With The Premier League’s Best

And he rose up to the role, taking the responsibility when needed to convince Michy Batshuayi – who is desperate for the goal – let designated penalty taker Willian take the spot kick to put the Blues 2-1 ahead.

And while Cahill’s role in the first-team could be under threat, there is no doubt that Azpilicueta will play each week.

Since he arrived at Stamford Bridge, he’s been outstanding wherever he’s played – left back, right back or right centre-back.

Indeed, speaking about the Spaniard Conte said: “He’s incredible in his new role, “one of the best in the world in this role.”

And he’s right – Azpilicueta was hugely unlucky to not be nominated in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year while David Luiz and Cahill were.

Luiz is another potential option for Chelsea’s next captain.

Like Azpilicueta, he’s hugely popular with the fans and is a leader at the back.

Like both of his defensive partners, he’s been great this season as he’s proven his doubters in England wrong.

And perhaps Hazard, who so often this season has been the player to make the difference for the Blues, or even Thibaut Courtois, could be considered as potential candidates.

But with the Blues being so successful this season, why take it away from Cahill?

He’s stepped up to the plate and you haven’t noticed Chelsea missing a Terry-shaped leader on the pitch.

As they say, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, and this season having Cahill as captain certainly hasn’t led to Chelsea being broken.

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