2. More positives than negatives in defense
As we all know, the defense has been a pretty big strongpoint for Chelsea under Tuchel. The Blues score less goals, but they concede way fewer than before. It’s not all smiles, it gets the job done in the end though. If one player isn’t really performing that well in defense, then the others make up for it. This is what happened on Saturday afternoon.
Andreas Christensen wasn’t really having the best game. He has been usually solid ever since he was called upon to replace the veteran Thiago Silva a few weeks ago. He’s been alright; he’s had his good games, he’s had his bad games but he’s mostly been good. Although, this last game against Leeds wasn’t his best one. He turned the ball over a few times, some of his passes looked lethargic/careless, his defending was OK, but he was out of position a couple of times. It may not look bad on paper, but on the eye test, it wasn’t his best performance.
Luckily for him, two of his teammates in defense stood out. One was Antonio Rudiger, and the other was goalkeeper Eduoard Mendy.
Rudiger was immense on Saturday—he was just so good. He passed the ball really well, he kept the ball very comfortably, he made deep runs into the attacking third, took a few good shots as well—whether from corners or from outside of the box, just classic Rudiger. In defense, he was just everywhere. He put his body on the line multiple times. The centerback went into uncomfortable situations and won the ball back at ease. He went into every duel with full strength, and in my opinion, it was one of his best performances this season. The German has been a mainstay in the Chelsea defense ever since Tuchel has arrived, and he’s showing why exactly that is the case.
Mendy saved Chelsea from losing the game though. He had a number of key stoppages, his distribution was clean, his positioning was on point. Basically, he did everything right. He had that one incredible save in the first half where he just tipped the ball onto the crossbar to save the shot from going in. In the second half, he had another great save where he was going one way, but the ball went another, so he stretched out his hand while almost diving the other way. It was incredible. He had a great game, and as I said, he saved the Blues’ unbeaten run.