For much of 2014/15 the sustained brilliance of Cesar Azpilicueta in Chelsea’s left-back role has kept £15.8m summer signing Filipe Luis in the shade.
However, the Brazilian has now been preferred to the man they call ‘Dave’ in three of Chelsea’s last four matches.
Instead Azpilicueta was the man who played against Bradford City while the Selecao international was rested with Liverpool’s Capital One Cup visit in mind.
The former Marseille man was introduced from the bench home and away against Brendan Rodgers’ side as Jose Mourinho sought to close out the game without concession.
And the fact that the Chelsea boss chose to deploy Filipe Luis and Azpilicueta in such a fashion may illustrate his changing thoughts over what he requires from a left full-back.
Squawka.com’s per-90-minutes statistics illustrates that the Spaniard is the more productive defender on all bar one of a selection of relevant metrics.
Tellingly however, the exact opposite is true when it comes to the respective wide defenders’ attacking contributions.
Here the Brazilian is the boss, playing more defence splitting ‘key passes’, creating more chances, distributing the ball more positively and beating more men with the orb at his feet.
It’s too early to gauge whether or not the summer-signing has leap-frogged Azpilicueta in his manager’s affections.
However, the fact that Filipe Luis has superseded his colleague in recent key games hints that Mourinho may be increasingly willing to sacrifice defensive probity for greater attacking ingenuity on the overlap.
As such, which left-back the Portuguese fields may increasingly be referred to as a barometer of his intentions in any given match.
If he decides to go for Manchester City’s collective jugular in the hope of issuing a Premier League title race coup de grace then Azpilicueta’s run on the bench is likely to continue.
Chelsea are even money favourites to claim maximum reward from the Citizens’ visit top Stamford Bridge.