3. Who are Tuchel’s favorites?
By now, Tuchel should be getting a better understanding of his squad. Almost every player has seen a good chunk of minutes by now, and there have been some surprising choices that are on the verge of becoming legitimate trends. For instance, is Kurt Zouma really on the outside looking in? That seemed inconceivable just a month ago, but Antonio Rudiger has been the preferred option in the meantime. What about Ben Chilwell, who seemed like the perfect solution to Chelsea’s left back woes for the first half of the season? Well, Marcos Alonso seems to be the go-to as long as Tuchel sticks with wingbacks rather than fullbacks.
Under a new manager, especially a replacement for a fan-favorite, every team sheet gets poured over by fans looking for signs of perceived conspiracy or incompetence. With the reports of Frank Lampard’s frayed relationships with certain players, that has certainly been the case since Tuchel took over, but let’s be realistic. It’s entirely possible that not every selection has some deeper meaning, and Tuchel is just going with the players who have won him these first few matches. That goes double for defenders, given the string of clean sheets the Blues have collected in recent weeks.
There’s no question that this is a crucial time for players to make their case to the new manager as to why they should be in his starting XI week in and week out though. Players like Callum Hudson-Odoi and Mason Mount have done just that, while Christian Pulisic and apparently Zouma have seemingly done the opposite. One good performance could certainly vault Pulisic or Zouma back into the starting line-up, but as Tuchel gets more matches under his belt, it will be increasingly difficult to change his mind. Newcastle is the type of beatable opponent that should give the less-fancied Blues players a good chance to make a positive impression. With a big run of crucial league and Champions League matches on the horizon, the fringe players need to step up now or risk being left in the dust as Tuchel has to firmly decide what his best squad looks like.
What are some things you’ll be looking for on Monday? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!