Thomas Tuchel has been quick to bemoan his squad’s lack of focus and defensive blunders over the past month as Chelsea have appeared more vulnerable in the closing weeks of this season.
As those defensive errors have piled up, the lack of minutes for one player has become more prevalent. Trevoh Chalobah has only started one of Chelsea’s last ten games, left out of the squad in two (Brentford and Crystal Palace), with Tuchel putting it down to as a selection call rather than an injury concern.
This is a massive change from the early months of the season when Chalobah was a constant in Tuchel’s starting back-three. Riding high off a transformative pre-season where he broke through and gained a spot in the first-team squad, he was eventually rewarded with a new contract till 2026 in November.
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At the back end of November, when Chelsea brushed aside both Leicester and Juventus in the space of four days, Chalobah played the entirety of both alongside Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger.
For all the changes, enforced or otherwise, by Tuchel this season, that has appeared the most impressive trio. It reflected a lot that in a period where Chelsea have liberally conceded goals, 15 in the last nine across all competitions.
Several of those have been unenforced errors. The mess-up between Edouard Mendy and Rudiger against Real Madrid, the short backpass by Andreas Christensen to gift Eddie Nketiah the opener for Arsenal and Cesar Azpilicueta dawdling on the ball at Goodison Park last Sunday.
The fact that Chalobah has found it tough to gain more minutes in this recent rocky period will be of concern. Tuchel, when asked last month about the 22-year-old and detailed talks he had with Chalobah before the loss to Arsenal.
“We had a talk recently that I cannot prove it with minutes and game minutes in the moment, but he is exactly in the level where he was at the beginning of the season.”
Valued at £18m by TransferMarkt and likely to form the basis of a revamped defence next season due to the departures of Rudiger and Christensen, it feels bizarre he hasn’t gained more minutes.
“It’s impressive because he overcame this kind of period where things felt a bit more difficult for him during the winter period,” Tuchel said. “He had some mistakes, was not so comfortable on the pitch and reliable like used to be.
“These are the reasons. Pretty normal. For me, he is taking it very well and trains excellent. This is what we demand from him. I think he will see it with minutes in the next matches.”
Although Chalobah came in for the West Ham game, where he helped keep a clean sheet and the Blues won, he did not play a minute in the following two against Manchester United and Everton.
His lack of involvement has sparked comparisons to the Fikayo Tomori situation under Frank Lampard. Tomori was an academy breakthrough in the 2019/20 season, a regular feature in Lampard’s defence before falling out of favour in the second half of that season.
By the following January, his loan to AC Milan felt an inevitability, which then led to his permanent exit in June 2021 for £25m. Chalobah will hope that exclusion ends in the remaining five games of this season, as Tuchel demands a quick response.
Chalobah will still likely view this season as an overwhelming success based on his expectations last year. 27 appearances and nearly 2,000 minutes of first-team football has provided a great platform to build on next season.
Against Wolves, with senior defenders showing consistent frailties, it is time for Tuchel to bring his breakthrough star back into the picture again.
Source by Football London