Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Burnley on Monday night was a mostly disappointing result for Fantasy managers who own the Blues’ defenders.
Although he was unable to bank a 15th clean sheet of the season, Cesar Azpilicueta (£6.4m) at least compensated with an assist for Gonzalo Higuain‘s (£9.1m) goal against the Clarets.
That was Azpilicueta’s seventh attacking return of the season, with five of those arriving in the last 11 Gameweeks.
Having played mostly as a centre-half under Antonio Conte in a three-man backline, Azpilicueta has had to re-acclimatise to life as a right-back since Maurizio Sarri’s appointment last summer.
The Spain international has not been without his detractors this season, especially for his limited ability going forward.
Marcos Alonso (£6.3m) had previously suffered criticism from Chelsea fans and beyond, of course, but his weaknesses are very much defensive in nature and Fantasy managers cared little about negative critiques of his all-round ability as a left-back while the attacking returns were flying in at the other end.
It is actually since Alonso lost his ever-present status in Gameweek 24 that Azpilicueta’s output has improved in terms of goal involvement.
Having registered no goals and just two assists up until that point, Azpilcueta has one goal and four assists from the beginning of February onwards.
Azpilicueta would traditionally be the full-back to hang back in defence as Alonso bombed forward but the latter’s frequent absence of late has perhaps freed up Azpilicueta to get forward a little more.
Not that Alonso’s no-shows and Azpilicueta’s increased attacking threat are mutually exclusive: the much-maligned left-back has been on the pitch for three of those five most-recent returns.
Nevertheless, we will use Gameweek 24 as the starting point for our analysis of Azpilicueta’s performances in the Members’ article below.