Pundit: This player always steps up when Chelsea struggle
Charlie Nicholas hails Thibaut Courtois's ability to step up when Chelsea are struggling
Charlie Nicholas has hailed Thibaut Courtois as the most-important player in the Chelsea team.
The Belgium international has helped the west London side keep the second-best defensive record in the Premier League title race.
Courtois has comfortably kept more clean sheets than his nearest rival Hugo Lloris after racking up 14 shutouts in the current campaign.
The towering shot stopper was a key player in Chelsea’s title-winning campaign under Jose Mourinho in 2014-15 after he usurped Petr Cech as the west London side’s number one goalkeeper.
While Nicholas highlighted the importance of Diego Costa and Eden Hazard to Conte’s side, the former Arsenal midfielder claimed that Courtois is the one who will decide whether Chelsea win the title.
“I would say it is Thibaut Courtois and the reason I say so is they’ve had a couple games where they’ve been questioned and he’s come up with the answers,” Nicholas told Sky Sports.
“Costa, Hazard and Fabregas are more valuable in attacking senses but when it comes to the big moments in the big games it will be Courtois who will decides whether they can win the title.
“They’ve got a few really big games coming up and for me, if he carries on keeping clean sheets, Chelsea will simply win the title.”
Chelsea finished in tenth place in the Premier League table after a disappointing defence of their title crown.
Courtois missed a large portion of the 2015-16 season with an injury.
The Belgian shot stopper won the La Liga title with Atletico Madrid in his final season in the Spanish capital before returning to Chelsea from his loan spell.