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What is Chelsea's best XI?

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When Jose Mourinho returned to Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2013, he said that he wanted 22 outfielders in his first team squad. This meant that players had to go.

Victor Moses and Romelu Lukaku were sent out on loan, as were youngsters such as Josh McEachren and Nathaniel Chalobah. The aim was to have a smaller, compact squad with two players for every position and enough quality to chop and change the starting eleven without lowering the teams strength.

It was all about quality in depth and there is no doubt that, man-for-man, Mourinho boasts one of the best squads in England, if not Europe.

Even with such a strong squad Mourinho has found it hard to come up with his best starting XI. There are some positions that are still hotly contested. In the following, Mourinho's options will be analysed and his selection problems will be displayed.

Ivanovic vs Azpilicueta

Ivanovic has quickly become one of Mourinho's favourite players and has almost guaranteed himself a starting berth for the season. He already has 15 appearances under his belt. The only player who can match this is Petr Cech. Ivanovic has qualities that Mourinho admires. Strength, power and speed as well as a willingness to go to the end of the world and back for his team.

Due to Ivanovic's consistency, Cesar Azpilicueta has found starts hard to come by this season. He only started in the Capital One Cup games and could not get past his Serbian team mate. However, recently Mourinho has seemed to realise what the Spaniard brings to the table.

A solid defender who likes to get forward and a perfect professional, who will not complain but would rather knuckle down and prove himself worthy - as he has been doing this season. He is, surprisingly, pushing Ashley Cole and Ryan Bertrand for the left back role after some steady performances against Schalke in the Champions League.

Only time will tell but Azpilicueta may just push into the starting line up - as he did more and more last year until he became an integral part of the side.

Cahill vs Luiz

John Terry is the first name on the team sheet at the moment and there is no arguing with that. He has been immense this season and his revival was warmly welcomed by Chelsea fans who feared they may be seeing the end of him after last year's tough ride.

The position next to him in the centre of defence has been shared by David Luiz and Gary Cahill this year. Luiz started in great form and seemed to be set to replicate Carvahlo in a carbon-copy of the defensive duo that secured Chelsea so many titles in Mourinho's first term.

Luiz is good on the ball and creates opportunities and space going forward. He is a good defender and is a passionate footballer. He has the potential to be world class, but then he ruins everything by switching off at the vital moment in situations like against Cardiff.

Ever since that moment Cahill has been preferred in defence. He is similar to Terry in his playing style. Cahill is an excellent tackler and blocker of the ball and even though many see him as an inferior player to Luiz, he is very consistent and gets the job done. He has created a good partnership with John Terry and Mourinho is trusting him more and more.

It will be hard for Luiz to get back into the side with Cahill continuing to perform so well and the Brazilian will need to realise that to impress Mourinho as a defender, you do not have to score wonder goals or be able to beat three men before playing a through ball. You need to be solid, good in the air and you need to be on high alert for the entirety of the game.

Mata vs Oscar

The hot topic surrounding Stamford Bridge and the newly reinstated manager is the fact that Oscar has replaced Mata in the number ten role behind the striker for Chelsea. Mata has been the best playmaker in the league for the last two years and was elected Chelsea's best player in 2012 and 2013.

However, Oscar has started the majority of the matches and Mata's chance has come in less important games such as the Capital One Cup. Oscar is, without a doubt, repaying his manager's loyalty with goals and assists being stacked up at regular intervals. He has become the lynchpin of the Brazil and Chelsea teams and will have a great career if he can keep the momentum going. Oscar works hard and has the ability to spark something magical. His tireless running and penchant for wonder goals is what secures him a place ahead of his Spanish counterpart.

Juan Mata has not had the chance to get going yet. He is still considered Chelsea's best player and many see his absence as the reason why Chelsea find it difficult to cut through tight defences which sit back. He has an eye for goal - as he proved against Arsenal this year - but what has been sorely missed with his continued absence from the starting eleven is his creativity and assists.

He sees things other players do not see and this makes him invaluable. He was criticised for not running or closing down enough and Chelsea fans will be hoping he can improve this side of his game and show Mourinho he should be in the team week-in-week-out.

Schurrle vs Willian

The two new boys on the block are in direct contention for a spot in the team. Both players have shown their ability and have settled in well.

Schurrle made a blistering start to his Chelsea career. Mourinho favoured him for his running and tracking back as well as strength in the counter attack. He managed to fight for and keep a place in the team and has become a familiar face in the Chelsea midfield.

He scored his first goal for the Blues in the win against Manchester City and has become a fan favourite due to his enthusiasm and obvious delight at being at the club he supported when he was younger. Schurrle has been part of the reason why Juan Mata and Kevin de Bruyne have found it difficult to get minutes and he portrays all that Mourinho values in a player: passion, hard work, enthusiasm and a winning mentality.

Willian made his move from Anzhi Makhachkala in the summer and took some time to settle in. He obviously lacked fitness and he needed to work himself back up to the required level. However, after a few run-outs for his new club he started showing what he is capable of. His stunner against Norwich meant Chelsea gained three valuable points. His performances in blue earned him a call up to the Brazilian national team where he found the back of the net in a friendly thrashing of Honduras.

Both these players are hard workers and talented attackers, however, at the moment Mourinho sees Schurrle as slightly ahead in the pecking order, with Willian seen as a useful impact player.

Torres vs Eto'o

The two main strikers for Chelsea this term are Torres and Eto'o. Both are finding form with neither being amazing. This is a position in Chelsea's team that needs strengthening and Mourinho will certainly be looking into this in the next transfer window. However, for now this is what he is stuck with.

Torres is improving. There is a fire in his belly which he is using to help his team get results. He has started scoring again and his eagerness to chase the ball has paid dividends in a winner against Manchester City. He looks better and his team mates have more trust in him now. Although not the Torres of his Liverpool days, he is also not the Torres of his early Chelsea days.

Eto'o was acquired in the summer transfer window after Anzhi decided to have a player-yard-sale. He came for free on a one year deal. Many people had doubts about whether he still had the magic touch and burst of pace which made him the most feared striker in Europe. Much like Willian, he lacked fitness and had a slow start to his Chelsea tenure but he has obviously worked on it and has convinced Mourinho to consider him a vital part of the team.

Eto'o's poaching skills and classy finishing have been evident on some occasions this season as Timo Hildebrand and David Marshall will tell you. Both were subjected to a steal and a cool finish at the hands of the Cameroonian striker.

These are the main selection headaches that Mourinho has but he would tell you that football is a squad game and it is doubtless that everyone will get their opportunity to shine but with such a star-studded squad you have to take every chance you can get.

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Topics:
Football
Premier League
Chelsea

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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