"My (restricted) Chelsea XI" by ChelseaChadder

Chelsea Squad

There is always talk about who would be in the greatest ever Chelsea team. Depending on your age, when you first started watching Chelsea and where you live, you probably have a different view point to many others. My greatest team is different from my dad’s.

There are always various polls on this subject and depending on when votes are cast largely influences who is in the team. I’m going to list my greatest Chelsea team based on two factors. First, they must have played during the Roman Abramovich era. Secondly, they had to be aged under 25 in this period. However, the team will include players that made the biggest impact/contribution before they reached 25.

Goalkeeper – Petr Cech
It’s probably no surprise to see Petr Cech in goal. In his time with Chelsea he has won everything worth winning in the club game. Making his CFC debut back in 2004 (aged 22), the current shot stopper is arguably the greatest keeper in the Blues history.

Right back – Glen Johnson
The first (proper) signing of the Roman Abramovich era, Glen Johnson was bought from West Ham for a free of around £6m. The English fullback made his Blues debut 10 days before his 19th birthday. I would argue that ‘Jonno’ may have been better suited to Glenn Hoddle’s 3-5-2 wingback system due to his enthusiasm to get forward, as he often lacked the discipline to play as a traditional right back. Although Branislav Ivanovic did make his Chelsea debut before his 25th birthday, he only played 15 games and had yet to solidify his cult status.

Centre back – John Terry
The most decorated and arguably the greatest captain in Chelsea’s history. He led the Blues to their first ever Premier League title back in 2005 at the age of 24 years old. The on/off England captain had scored 13 goals for CFC in the Abramovich era including a double against Charlton Athletic. John Terry is also the only person in this team to come through the Chelsea youth ranks.

Centre back – David Luiz
This was a close call between German defender Robert Huth and the curly haired Brazilian. Both of these players have cult status amongst Blues fans. However, I believe that Huth failed to secure his position in the first team and flourished as a defender after he left Chelsea. David Luiz burst on to the CFC scene and fans saw a glimmer of his talent and flair after making his debut as a substitute vs Liverpool, which famously saw Fernando Torres also make his debut.

Left back – Wayne Bridge
After signing for Chelsea back in 2003, and the media using his name in all kinds of puns, the former Southampton full back made 73 appearances for CFC before his 25th birthday. Although he was not a renowned goalscorer, he did score one of the most memorable goals in the Blues history. His left footed strike against Arsenal at Highbury in the Champions League quarter final sealed a win for the blues and a trip to Monaco in the semi final.

Midfield – John Obi Mikel
Nobody under 25 has played more games for Chelsea in the Roman Abramovich era than Mikel (235 games). Always in the shadow of Blues legend Claude Makelele, the Nigerian has become a Marmite footballer amongst fans; you either love him or hate him. The man may not have ever scored a Premier League goal, however he probably won’t care when he looks at his personal trophy cabinet.

Midfield – Michael Essien
‘The Bison’ was once Chelsea’s record signing and went on to win the Premier League trophy in his first season. Essien proved to be a powerhouse although his tough tackling was often criticised by the media in his early days. A promising career has been hampered by injuries, however he did win the Chelsea Player of the Year award for the 2006/07 season. He also won Goal of the Season for his strike against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge. Essien just edged Ramires out of my team.

Midfield – Joe Cole
Another one of Abramovich’s early signings from West Ham, the England midfielder and Chelsea fan played 150 games for CFC before his 25th birthday. Like Essien his career at Chelsea was cut short by injuries and won the Player of the Year award in 2007/08. Joey excited the crowd with his trickery and skill. However, Jose Mourinho famously blasted him for not working hard enough defensively after a scoring the winner against Liverpool in 2004. Cole scored 23 goals including a double against Colchester Utd in the FA Cup.

Attack – Arjen Robben
When Arjen Robben made his Chelsea debut as substitute against Blackburn Rovers in 2004, the whole of Stamford Bridge watched in amazement as the skilful winger created chance after chance. The Dutchman’s greatest attributes were his speed, but more importantly his ability to find the back of the net. It is still argued that the most exciting football played for years was when Robben and Damien Duff were on the wings. However, like Cole and Essien, Arjen Robben was very injury prone which probably led to his departure to Real Madrid for a record fee of over £20m.

Attack – Juan Mata
Juan Mata joined Chelsea in 2011 aged 23 years old from Valencia. The young Spaniard gave Chelsea much needed creativity in the final third. Mata scored on his CFC debut and later went on to win the Chelsea Player of the Year award in his first season. Add this to his Champions League and FA Cup winners medals with Chelsea, as well as a European Championship with Spain, the future for Juan Mata in a Blues shirt is very promising.

Attack – Salomon Kalou
The Ivorian striker was probably most noted for scoring more goals for Chelsea as a substitute than any other player. Like Petr Cech and John Terry, Kalou has won every important trophy at club level. I have a lot of respect for Kalou as he was a player who never publicly moaned about his lack of game time, yet gave his best when called upon. However, many would argue (me included) that perhaps he was never ‘Chelsea quality’. Other players that missed out on this final spot were Daniel Sturridge and Adrian Mutu.

Obviously, this team is up for debate. This is just a different perspective for the greatest Chelsea XI. Based on the criteria, who would be in your team? If you liked this article then follow me on Twitter: @ChelseaChadder