Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea has just suffered its first loss as a Chelsea manager, and it was a big one. Tuchel is level-headed, so we can expect him not to overreact to this result, but instead analyze the points in the match where things went wrong. Chelsea cannot dwell too much on the loss though, as they have a Champions League quarterfinal tie against Porto, who already knocked out Juventus. Chelsea can expect Porto to be as devastating as possible if given the opportunities West Brom was given. With every player falling short at Stamford Bridge against the Baggies, here’s who we think Tuchel trusts not to botch the tie against the Portuguese side:
Edouard Mendy (No.16) Goalkeeper, Senegal
Mendy is still Chelsea’s first choice goalkeeper. The 5-2 loss was an anomaly that he was as responsible for as much as the other 10 players. The way to respond to that result is not to hide, but come to terms with the fact that the whole Chelsea squad collapsed mentally and that cannot repeat itself. Enough of league football, Mendy has a 95-percent save percentage in the Champions League and has saved every shot he’s faced on target except one. He has conceded a competition-low 0.2 goals per game and has been instrumental in Chelsea’s place in the Quarterfinals. Mendy has to put the pressure of conceding five goals against a Championship-bound side behind him and focus on what’s ahead. He’s still an exceptional goalkeeper and one freak accident does not change that.
Cesar Azpilicueta (No. 28) Right centerback, Spain
Azpilicueta was unfortunately present when Chelsea fell apart at the seams at home against the 19th placed team in the league. Every Chelsea player on that pitch should and would be asking questions of himself after that game. They cannot afford to dwell on it though. They can only analyze the game and take note of all the things they did right and did wrong. I’m kidding, they didn’t do anything right. Azpilicueta has been in situations like this before and he’ll be tasked with keeping the players in the right place mentally
Andreas Christensen (No. 4) Centerback, Denmark
Christensen replaced Hakim Ziyech to join Azpilicueta and Kurt Zouma to keep the three centerback formation the Blues started with. The Dane, unfortunately, didn’t cover himself in glory. He seemed oblivious to the ball over the top by Sam Johnstone for West Brom’s first goal. Zouma was the only one who spotted the danger and run, but he wasn’t close enough to Matheus Pereira to do anything about it. That said, even Zouma was found wanting at many points in the match as he was well placed to block the second goal. From the second half he was all over the place positionally because he was going forward a lot and at some point even playing left wing. Christensen played more minutes than Silva, and while the damage was already done by the time he was subbed in, he did nothing to manage the drubbing that Chelsea eventually got. In fact, Christensen was on the pitch when all 5 goals were conceded so was the damage really already done when he came on? Christensen came on when Chelsea was already a man down and it may not have been the case if he started.
Antonio Rudiger (No. 2) Left centerback, Germany
Rudiger is the only centerback who is not tainted by conceding five goals to a West Brom that have struggled to score this season. The easiest thing to say would be “If Rudiger had played, this wouldn’t have happened” but let’s face it, four out of Chelsea’s five senior centerbacks in rotation played in that game and none of them played well, it was just a bad day at the office. Rudiger has been reliable under Tuchel so far and while it’s understandable that he didn’t start against West Brom, it’s wouldn’t be understandable if he doesn’t start against Porto.