Under Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea were one of the best teams defensively in the world. After being appointed in gameweek 20, Chelsea kept 11 clean sheets and only conceded 13 goals in Premier League. The two big reasons behind these results was the change in setup and amazing display from the defenders. With the new season around the corner, what are the centre back options available for Tuchel?
Setup and centre back choices available
Under Thomas Tuchel Chelsea lined up with three centre backs and two wing backs. The way it worked was that one of the three centre backs pushed forward, in this case it was mostly Antonio Rudiger. This gave Chelsea and extra man at times in attack and also helped in stopping counter attacks. The full backs, Ben Chilwell and Reece James, push forward which meant the three centre backs had to be comfortable on the ball.
Defensively this setup has worked nicely. Tuchel asks his players to press high, which means the work rate is more. The three centre backs need to be quick on their feet and on the ball. As of now Chelsea have Rudiger, Thiago Silva, Cesar Azpilicueta, Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen, Ethan Ampadu and Trevoh Chalobah as centre back options.
Chelsea played with three centre backs, uncommon in the Premier League. Tuchel on his arrival gave chance to all players to cement their place in starting 11. Kurt Zouma was given a chance upon Tuchel’s arrival, the same goes with Christensen. But after a few matches and trying different centre back pairings, Antonio Rudiger, Thiago Silva and Azpilicueta were the first choice for Chelsea back-line. On few occasions fans saw Reece James and Christensen play as a centre back and Azpilicueta shift to a right wing-back position.
All three players brought something different to the team. Rudiger was asked to push forward from the left side and help in midfield or attack. Thiago Silva was much more of a moderator between the right and the left side of the pitch, the heart of defence. He held his position in the back-line all the time. On the other side Azpilicueta at times pushed forward from wide areas.
The common trait among all three was that they were comfortable on the ball. Chelsea did win the Champions League but finished fourth in Premier League and in this transfer market Chelsea are looking to strengthen their squad. Let us see who the Blues are linked with this summer.
Defenders On Chelsea’s List
Chelsea are in the transfer market to strengthen their squad in every area of the field. Romelu Lukaku up front is a done deal but one other interesting name the Blues are linked with is centre back Jules Kounde. Many will question the signing as the size of squad is already huge but Thomas Tuchel upon his arrival said, the squad is of perfect size. This allowed him to make regular changes and rotate players throughout the season.
The Blues are ready to offer Zouma as part of the deal to bring Kounde to Stamford Bridge. His addition to the squad will be very vital for this season’s success. Looking at the current squad there is no back-up for Rudiger, who has proved he deserves to play every match. Thiago Silva, the heart of the back-line at time rotates with Christensen, who has been amazing whenever given a chance. So we can see those two rotate throughout the season.
When it comes to Azpilicueta, the captain turns 32 and cannot play every single match 90 minutes. We saw Reece James play as a right centre back on a few occasions, like the Champions League Final and FA Cup semi-final to name a few. But with the addition of Kounde, that can change. James can play in his preferred position as right wing-back and Azpilicueta can rotate for Kounde.
The young Frenchman can play a key role in coming years. He is good on the ball and in 1v1 situations, which Tuchel expects from his defenders. Thiago Silva is also close to hanging up his boots and Chelsea needs some young names for future.
Should Chelsea loan Trevoh Chalobah ?
Trevoh Chalobah has made a name for himself among the Chelsea fans. Younger brother of Nathaniel Chalobah who spent 12 seasons at Chelsea. Another product of youth academy who looks to make it into the first team. He has already made three loan moves, playing with the likes of Huddersfield, Ipswich Town and League 1 side Lorient.
He is one of the best player Chelsea has on their loan list but is it the right time for him to join the first team. The three clubs he played for all have faced relegation but he has been a standout performer every time. He is talented and got a bright future ahead of him but a loan move will be best for both Chalobah and Chelsea. Valencia is considered as the front runner at the moment to sign Chalobah on a season long loan deal.
Chalobah is a special talent and Tuchel recognises that. One of the biggest evidence of that is Tuchel wants Chalobah to play as a centre back and progress as one. Thus only looking to send him to club that plays him as a centre back. The fans saw how much Tuchel trusts Chalobah in the pre-season friendlies, played almost full match against Arsenal and Spurs and a half against Bournemouth.
Chelsea have many upcoming centre backs out on loan, Matt Miazga, Malang Sarr, Ethan Ampadu and Trevoh Chalobah. Sarr and Chalobah at the moment are leading the race to make it into the first team. If the transfer of Kounde goes through that means the only position without a backup would be left centre back, where Rudiger plays.
Silva is also close to retiring that means Christensen and Chalobah can play in rotation at the heart of defence. Tuchel played Chalobah on right and centre back position, which shows he wants Chalobah in one of those positions. Only a matter of time and fans will see Chalobah playing for the first team.
Written by Suryansh Somvanshi (@suryanshsomvans)
Edited by Tom Coley (@tomcoley49)
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