Chelsea goes head-to-head with Newcastle after a string of positive results. The Magpies are a difficult team to break due to their compact structure. Thomas Tuchel’s men have kept bucket loads of possession in the past few games, but haven’t created too many chances. This game is set to be a test of the Blues’ creativity and patience.
Here’s a look at Tuchel’s predicted XI against Newcastle:
Edouard Mendy (No. 16) Goalkeeper, Senegal
Edouard Mendy is still Chelsea’s undisputed No. 1, despite the obvious claim that Kepa Arrizabalaga could crawl his way back into the line-up if he keeps performing. Who doesn’t like a bit of good healthy competition? Under Tuchel, Mendy has done well and hasn’t conceded a single goal from the opposition. However, his clean record is tainted by one unfortunate own goal from the one and only, Antonio Rudiger. Against Newcastle, Mendy should be relatively comfortable and should be merely a spectator between the sticks.
Cesar Azpilicueta (No. 28) Centerback, Spain
Cesar Azpilicueta has been one of the best performers under Tuchel. The Spaniard has found his way back after being on the bench for the first part of the season under Frank Lampard. Azpilicueta has a unique role in Tuchel’s system as the right centerback. However, his involvement has not been limited to defence, he has been playing as an “overlapping centerback” and almost as a right back on occasions. Azpilicueta has the experience and the positional freedom to roam forward and create attacking chances, and this tactical fluidity is the beauty of Tuchel’s football.
Kurt Zouma (No. 15) Centerback, France
Kurt Zouma has been a forgotten man in the past few games. He was shockingly dropped from the starting line-up in the last two games under Lampard and hasn’t been involved in a single Premier League game—that is, until now. It is difficult to explain what is going on with Zouma, and I prefer not to get into that. While Zouma might be the fifth choice centerback at the moment, Thiago Silva is currently out injured, and Christensen was taken off in the game against Barnsley due to a headache. Tuchel is known for being cautious with injuries, and his system demands a lot from the players as well. Hence, it is safe to assume that Zouma will feature as the third defender against Newcastle.
Antonio Rudiger (No. 2) Centerback, Germany
Antonio Rudiger’s career has revived since the appointment of Tuchel. He wasn’t a key player under Lampard and spent most of his time on the bench. However, he started the last two games under the English manager and he has started all league games since then. Rudiger has been decent in most of the games and was monumental in the win against Sheffield as he made a number of saves to make up for his own goal. However, due to his own goal, one cannot help but notice a pattern in his performances. He is always decent, but has a tendency to make a mistake here or there. While he managed to clear his name against Sheffield, such a mistake against a better side could cost Chelsea the game.