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John Terry's incredible defensive record vs. the Premier League's best

Craig Burley and Mark Donaldson react to John Terry's decision to leave Chelsea, and what lies ahead for him.

LONDON -- On May 3, 2016, one day after Chelsea had come from two goals down to end Tottenham's Premier League title challenge with a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge, John Terry posted a jubilant message on his Instagram account.

"What a game that was last night," the comment alongside an image of a celebrating Gary Cahill read.

"Great character from the players to come back from 2-0 down. The atmosphere was incredible and we know how much that result means to you supporters. 27 years now #notonmyshift."

The 27 years referred to Tottenham's remarkable winless run at Stamford Bridge which, thanks to a 2-1 Chelsea win in November, still stretches back unbroken to February 1990. Terry, forever conscious of his close relationship to Blues fans, was always going to regard his unbeaten home record against their most hated rivals as a particular badge of honour.

Monday's confirmation that Terry will leave Chelsea after 22 years this summer ensures that he will never lose to Tottenham at Stamford Bridge. But when it comes to the question of whether he should be regarded as the greatest defender of the Premier League era, the 36-year-old has plenty more in his favour.

Regardless of what happens at Wembley on Saturday, Terry is already assured of ending his Chelsea career with a winning record in games played against Spurs (W17 D9 L6), Arsenal (W15 D11 L11), Manchester United (W12 D11 L11) and Liverpool (W17 D9 L13) in all competitions.

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Less surprisingly, the Blues also dominated local rivals Fulham (W15 D6 L1) and QPR (W4 D1 L1) in matches with their captain on the pitch.

Terry can't claim sole or even primary credit for this, given that he was one of several world-class players in a series of good to great Chelsea teams. But the statistics also show that his defences fared impressively well against many of the deadliest Premier League strikers of his era.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored just once in 13 matches against Chelsea with Terry on the pitch -- the opener in the 2008 Champions League final in Moscow. You could justifiably argue that many of those games were played before the Portugal international matured into one of the greatest goalscorers in the history of football, but plenty of other illustrious names endured similar struggles at their peaks.

Wayne Rooney, United's all-time top scorer, netted just six times in 23 matches against Chelsea defences marshalled by Terry. Arsenal legend Thierry Henry scored five in 14, Robin van Persie got six across 15 games for the Gunners and United and Manchester City star Sergio Aguero registered two in six.

Luis Suarez's only goal in a match Terry started (a Premier League game in November 2012 at Stamford Bridge) came 33 minutes after the Chelsea captain, having opened the scoring himself, had been stretchered off with a knee injury sustained in a collision between the two men.

Chelsea have been renowned for their defensive prowess for much of the Roman Abramovich era and while Terry has been the major constant, it is true that he has often been surrounded by significant talent, as well as led by coaches adept at building disciplined and organised teams.


More compelling, however, is the picture that emerges when you look at how Chelsea fared against the Premier League's finest frontmen without Terry. In seven matches against Blues defences missing their captain, Rooney scored four goals. Henry managed five in five, while Aguero notched six in seven.

There are, of course, great strikers who did well against Terry. Tottenham hero Harry Kane can boast three goals in four matches, though he has caught the Chelsea captain at the tail-end of his productive years, while Carlos Tevez scored one in two for United and a further five in four after joining Manchester City.

Fernando Torres has the most impressive record of all, scoring seven goals in seven games against Terry-led Chelsea defences during his blistering prime at Liverpool -- a record that no doubt helped convince Abramovich to splash out £50 million to bring the Spaniard to Stamford Bridge in January 2011.

All in all, however, it is clear that Terry will leave Stamford Bridge having won more battles than he lost against the Premier League's best teams and strikers. The reward has been 14 major honours and counting in his 22 years, as well as a legacy among Chelsea fans that will endure long after he hangs up his boots.

Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.

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