Football: Chelsea fans hail 'Dave' as Azpilicueta's authority grows

LONDON (REUTERS) - Cesar Azpilicueta has taken time to settle in at Chelsea but the Spain defender affectionately known as "Dave" by the fans is beginning to make a name for himself at Stamford Bridge.

Azpilicueta, who joined the club from Olympique Marseille for a fee of £7 million (S$13.6 million) in August, produced his best display for the European champions as they brushed aside Wigan Athletic 4-1 in the Premier League on Saturday.

On a day of perfect symmetry in west London, the supporters welcomed back old favourite Frank Leboeuf when the former World Cup winner was paraded at half-time.

The Frenchman won a host of medals in his five years at Chelsea before leaving for Marseille in 2001 and was so popular with the fans that he had his own song, "He's here, he's there, he's everywhere, Frank Le-boeuf, Frank Le-boeuf".

Azpilicueta was similarly industrious against Wigan, popping up with last-ditch interventions in his own penalty box, launching attacks with his speed down the right and delivering inch-perfect crosses.

His name may be a bit of a tongue twister for the Chelsea supporters, hence the choice of nickname, but the 23-year-old is showing a growing authority in every game he plays at right back.

The fast-raiding Azpilicueta laid on two of the goals on Saturday, the second for Eden Hazard and the final one in stoppage time by Germany midfielder Marko Marin.

"It was the first time I was involved in so many goals and it was a very good week for me," the Spaniard said on Monday.

"The last few results have been disappointing so it was very good we won. Tottenham had won before our game and we wanted to keep our league position and we did," added Azpilicueta who made his Spain debut in last Wednesday's 3-1 friendly win over Uruguay in Qatar.