Chelsea’s best starting XI is this, whether it shows up on the pitch or not. If you don’t utilize your best talent, ultimately you lose. Thomas Tuchel has had a wonderful beginning to his Chelsea tenure, winning five of seven and drawing the two others. So, how should Tuchel approach the remainder of the season and deploy his considerable player resources to excel?
Here’s the side selected that will keep Chelsea on the rise and give the best players on the squad a buy-in on the results. Tuchel’s reliance on veteran players to-date has worked out fine. But, in the final analysis, the gaffer has to utilize his best, and these are his best. For the sake of argument, let’s use his preferred 3-4-2-1 formation in the discussion.
The keeper selected here is Edouard Mendy with Kepa Arrizabalaga in the secondary position. That’s perfectly clear.
Tuchel has used a three-man backline to great advantage lately. His best are certainly Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger, and Kurt Zouma, who broke back into the side against the Saints.
Silva is Tuchel’s best, most polished, and certainly most experienced central defender. Though he’ll have the occasional odd miscue, overall he’s as steady as Gibraltar and he’ll be back in the side (probably in the middle of the backline) when he’s fit. No doubt about that, but his use has to be managed carefully. He’s 36 years old. When he’s off, Tuchel has Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta to use in his place. That’s solid depth for any manager.
Antonio Rudiger has re-emerged from his pitch exile under Frank Lampard and is now a key member of the backline. Rudiger has always deserved his minutes. He may not be among the best in the world, but he’s steady, has good size, and competes. He can tie down the left in the three-man backline. Rudiger is still relatively young, can play lots of games, and has talent. Unless or until someone like Niklas Sule arrives, it looks like Rudiger is in the backline to stay. About Sule, there have been rumors abounding of late about Tuchel’s interest in the big Bayern Munich central defender.
A previous article explained why he’d be a great addition to the Chelsea backline. This space has hoped he’d become a Chelsea player for some time. He’s exactly what the backline will need going forward, especially when Silva moves on. Meanwhile, he can be part of any rotation Tuchel might employ. He should be first on the radar now that Dayot Upamecano is going to Bayern who is a unique central defender and could become one of the best at Bayern. Chelsea missed the boat on Upamecano and a golden opportunity to go hard after this young star in the making. Yet, that notwithstanding, Sule will be a tremendous addition to the backline if they can wrap up a deal this summer. He’s talented, young, experienced, and has something that can’t be taught, size. It’s all there with Sule.
The top three are Silva, Rudiger, and Zouma and they should be preferred by Tuchel.