2. Chelsea has a plethora of wingbacks
Many were understandably baffled by the first starting XI Tuchel put out against Wolves. The selections were surprising, but the set-up was even more stunning. Chelsea fans were debating—even after the match—what the new regime’s formation was in its debut. Perhaps the most mind-boggling decisions was Tuchel starting winger Callum Hudson-Odoi as a right wingback. Two different managers had worked with the English attacker and he’s been deployed on both sides of the front line, but never as an advanced defender. Despite this, he’s excelled, putting in Man of the Match worthy performances in both showings.
Hudson-Odoi’s positional rotation further complicates the depth discussions Tuchel and his team have at the moment. When Chelsea was playing four at-the-back under Lampard, the selection was rather simple—Reece James at right back, Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma in the center and Ben Chilwell as the fullback opposite his English counterpart. Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta have now found their way into the central defense—alongside Silva—and that means the wingback positions are clogged up by more individuals fighting for minutes.
Complicating matters further is Christian Pulisic. The American is well-known for his play on the wings, like Hudson-Odoi, but debuted at Dortmund under Tuchel as a wingback on numerous occasions. Pulisic came on as a late substitute against Wolves where he was immediately thrust into a wingback role on the right, showing Tuchel’s willingness to deploy him on either side, in addition to up top.
Now, factor in the aforementioned fullbacks and the back-up left backs—Emerson and Marcos Alonso—and the Blues have proper depth for the versatile defensive positions when playing with a back three. The only player capable of playing at either position who has not used by Tuchel so far is Emerson. However, given his good run of form this season and his tendency to drift into the midfield when in possession, it shouldn’t be long before the Italian gets his chance.