The winger situation gets dicey here. Chelsea has almost an abundance of riches here but for much of the season it has been on the shelf injured and unavailable for deployment. That fact made Lampard’s job a nightmare and hasn’t been of much help to Tuchel as yet either. So who should play?
This area will ultimately be one of Tuchel’s most difficult to manage. But having such tremendously talented wing players to deploy, even deeper in overall talent than the midfield, is a tremendous asset. They include Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Kai Havertz, and swing player Timo Werner. It’s an abundance of riches. The selection process has been easier to some extent for Tuchel on the wings due to fitness concerns for Pulisic, Havertz, and Ziyech. But what talent.
Pulisic has been hamstrung by injuries for much of last season and this. It’s a shame. When he is firing in his direct style initiate last season after the suspension, he’s one of the top forwards in the Premier League. Havertz has been hurt by injury and coronavirus, the extent of which is unknown to observers outside of the club. But it’s safe to say, it’s an issue he has had to deal with even as a young, fit player. Ziyech also has been afflicted with bad luck in his fitness. An early injury followed by another injury has kept him off the pitch for long periods and now he’s been given little opportunity to show what he can do lately by Tuchel. This is a mistake by the German manager that needs to be rectified. And not just with 15-minute cameos as against Southampton.
Werner has earned his starting spot as a left-winger playing more inside the formation and at times as a number nine. He can play either position inside. Expect a breakout soon by the German flash since he’s been the best player on the pitch for two of the past three games and is just now beginning to show the dynamism that prompted Chelsea to move for him last year. Werner is a starter. The other winger is a complex decision for Tuchel. If he doesn’t use Hudson-Odoi as a wing-back, should he start at winger? Meanwhile, Ziyech on the right-wing has a talent that few players in world football possess, his magic left foot that can send pinpoint crosses into scoring areas. Unfortunately, when he has, there’s been no one there to convert.
Not Ziyech’s fault. Hakim should start and be given a full run out. Meanwhile, if Werner plays the number nine position, Hudson-Odoi or Pulisic can move to the left wing to replace him there. It’s a wealth of riches but as pointed out previously, when really good players don’t play enough for their liking, it’s a problem waiting to happen. This winger situation is a real challenge for Tuchel. He needs to play his best players and he has a wealth of top players from which to choose. How he decides could well determine how the rest of Chelsea’s season goes. For now, Werner and Ziyech should start with wide substitution and rotation availability in Pulisic, Hudson-Odoi, and maybe Havertz.