Chelsea have arrived at the third international break of the 2021/22 season leading the Premier League table by three points following their 1-1 draw with Burnley at the weekend.
It could have been closer for the Blues had Liverpool not fallen to a very impressive West Ham side on Sunday afternoon. Had Jurgen Klopp’s side beat the Hammers the gap would have been one point to the Reds.
But Liverpool went down 3-2 in east London so Man City, who strolled past rivals Man Utd on Saturday lunchtime, now occupy second place in the table, with Liverpool in third.
Burnley’s late equaliser on Saturday put a bit of a downer on what had been a near-perfect run of games for Thomas Tuchel and the Blues since the last international break, Matej Vydra popping up late on as the Blues couldn’t secure an eighth-straight win in all competitions.
But it is not exactly doom and gloom in SW6 as the Blues’ strong start to the season under Tuchel remains very much to the fore.
The head coach was nominated for the October manager of the month award in the Premier League while on the playing side, Ben Chilwell was also nominated after returning to the fold and making the left wing-back spot his once again, scoring in three straight games for the club.
It has been a very good first 11 games for Tuchel and his men, but who has stood out and who has struggled to live up to expectation so far?
The right wing-back scored twice in the victory over Newcastle and in the 7-0 rout over Norwich to take his tally to four goals for the season already.
He helped himself to an assist last time out as Kai Havertz headed the Blues in front against Burnley only for some rather profligate finishing to cost the Blues.
James has been anything but profligate as he has nailed down the right wing-back spot. Tuchel can rotate his side in an instant but James is one of the first players on the team sheet after a very strong last month.
Ten appearances and a brand new long-term contract in his back pocket, 2021/22 has been an excellent season so far for the Blues academy graduate as he continues to go from strength to strength.
Chalobah stood up and was counted against Brentford as the Bees threw the kitchen sink at Chelsea. That performance may well have been the one that convinced the club’s hierarchy to hand him a new deal.
He has been an unused substitute for the last two Premier League games so he is not first choice at centre back but when Tuchel does rotate, he knows he can trust Chalobah in the big moments.
As previously mentioned, the left wing-back scored in three straight games for Chelsea in October and was nominated for the Premier League player of the month award.
Chilwell was also a part of a defence that kept three clean sheets having regained his place in the side from Marcos Alonso following a chastening start to the season for the England international.
Now though, he is firmly the number one option for Tuchel in the left wing-back slot, back in the England fold too and it’s been a good couple of months for the 24-year-old as he has regained his form and fitness.
With the double header against Malmo in the Champions League as well as a Carabao Cup tie with Southampton, adding to some favourable Premier League fixtures for the Blues, it appeared to be a good time for Saul to get some meaningful minutes.
But, he played just 25 minutes against Malmo, two in the win at Newcastle and has started just the one game since the last break and that was the win over Southampton.
The Spaniard’s frustrating loan spell has continued as he has seen Ruben Loftus-Cheek firmly usurp him in the midfield pecking order and outside of the Carabao Cup, minutes could be hard to come by for Saul.
It might be harsh to include the Moroccan in this considering he bagged the winner in the Champions League clash at Malmo last week but it has been a season of frustration so far for Ziyech.
T he player himself admitted after the Malmo win that he wasn’t quite back up to speed following a shoulder injury he sustained in the season curtain raiser, the Super Cup win over Villarreal, and his head coach has said similar.
With Christian Pulisic back to fitness following injury, Mason Mount too and Timo Werner set for a return after the international break too, Ziyech faces an even bigger battle on his hands to get into Tuchels’ starting eleven.
Source by Football London