The transfer window is nearing it’s end and already we’ve seen the impact a new signing can have on the Blues first XI.
The record deal to sign Romelu Lukaku started paying dividends immediately as the Belgian started against Arsenal and found the net at the Emirates. There was never any doubt about Lukaku’s position in the Blues’ heirarchy given the £97.5 million spent but will other deals Marina Granovskaia gets over the line adjust Thomas Tuchel’s favoured XI?
The Chelsea boss has plenty of talent to put on a show at Stamford Bridge with fantastic depth in most positions, but with Jules Kounde and Saul Niguez still potentially on the horizon, and Kurt Zouma looking set to depart, the German is going to have more difficult decisions to make.
So, in a world with everyone fit and at Tuchel’s disposal who could be the stars that make up Chelsea’s strongest XI following the international break?
We take a look below:
Fairly straightforward one here. Edouard Mendy has ensured his place as Chelsea’s number one since joining the club last summer. Kepa Arrizabalaga will likely be afford an opportunity to stick his claim during the African Cup of Nations at the start of 2022 but Mendy has done more than enough for the gloves at the moment.
While there are various contract issues at play here, there’s no doubt that Tuchel has some very solid options. Even when a number of the boss’ stalwarts were not up to match fitness, Trevoh Chalobah showed he was more than good enough to step into the team. With Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger, Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen also challenging for spots and Ampadu able to help out in the position, Zouma’s exit won’t be too harshly felt.
If Jules Kounde makes his home in west London, the Frenchman could come straight into the XI however. There’s a reason Chelsea are willing to make such an exuberant outlay for Sevilla’s star and they will hope he can hit the ground running. He could line up on the right side of the back three, possibly alternating with Azpilicueta.
The battle between Thiago Silva and Andreas Christensen will be a fascinating but, providing the latter comes to terms for a contract extension, this could be the year the Denmark international transitions past the former PSG star to stamp his authority in the heart of defence.
Antonio Rudiger has been a key cog in Tuchel’s success and will own his place on the left.
Of course, different teams will require different combinations but Blues captain Azpilicueta is going to have his work cut out at wing back too. Reece James has time and again shown his potential and his quality of delivery is only going to be more potent with Lukaku to search for.
Marcos Alonso has enjoyed a stellar start to the season. A beautiful free kick against Crystal Palace was backed up by a decent performance against Arsenal. Can he keep out Ben Chilwell?
The Spaniard can no doubt do a job but doesn’t breed the confidence that would see him consistently feature in the team over the course of a season. Chilwell was brought in last summer to be that man.
The England international is as adept at going forward, albeit with less goalscoring threat, and seems set to be the long term option for the Blues.
When you have two central midfielders in your side and each has been mentioned in the same breath as Ballon d’Or, it’s going to be hard to displace them. Mateo Kovacic has had his work cut out for pitch time, while N’Golo Kante and Jorginho have proved a potent combination when they can get on the pitch.
The former Leicester star covers so much ground, while Euro 2020 champion Jorginho is able to dictate the pace and flow of a game both with his passing and the darker arts.
Saul Niguez will offer another brilliant option on loan at Stamford Bridge, in a position that does need reinforcement. However, he has a lot to prove if he is to usurp those currently holding the shirt.
Lukaku plus two.
Hakim Ziyech, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic. The Blues really do have some riches going forward.
It’s Mason Mount whose place is pretty much locked in however. The 22-year-old isn’t a traditional winger but has been a pillar of consistency in driving the Blues forward.
Mount can drop into the middle and ghost between the lines while allowing Chelsea’s wingbacks to provide width. The academy product has made himself no less than a crucial part of Tuchel’s team.
The remaining spot could go any way. Against teams who play a high line, like Liverpool, perhaps Werner’s pace is impossible to ignore. Pulisic can beat anyone on his day, while Ziyech looked set to cement a place in Tuchel’s plans before his shoulder injury in the UEFA Super Cup.
Havertz – the so-called generational talent we’ve heard so much about – could be the star to step up to the plate. The German has the skills to unpick a defence and can chip in with plenty of goals to help dispel Chelsea’s struggles alongside Lukaku.
Strongest starting XI: Mendy; Kounde, Christensen, Rudiger; James, Chilwell; Kante, Jorginho; Havertz, Lukaku, Mount.
Source by Football London