Kai Havertz struggles to kick on as Chelsea contract decision made even easier for Thomas Tuchel

Chelsea are top of the Premier League after seven games of the season as we have reached the second international break of the campaign already.

There is another one to get through as well before we see out 2021 in what has been an incredibly hectic start to the new season for every club on the continent.

Chelsea have played seven Premier League games, two Champions League matches and a Carabao Cup tie already since the season kicked off on August 14 officially. Before then, there was the Super Cup win over Villarreal in Belfast as well.

Thomas Tuchel has rotated his squad as much as possible while also keeping the vast majority of the spine intact, club-record signing Romelu Lukaku has started all but one game since joining the club from Inter Milan for example.

Looking at the league table, there is plenty to shout about for the Blues so far, but the campaign all told hasn’t been without its ups and downs.

Successive defeats to Man City in the league and then Juventus in the Champions League saw questions asked of Tuchel for the first time since he replaced Frank Lampard in January, just the second time he had overseen successive defeats and had also gone three games without victory.

They put that to rights by beating Southampton 3-1 last weekend to head into the international break top of the tree and with some favourable fixtures prior to the next stoppage in November, Chelsea fans and Tuchel will be hoping they will at least keep pace with those battling them at the top of the league table.

So with seven games gone, football.london has decided to have a look at who has been impressing and who has been struggling since the start of the campaign and that 3-0 win over Crystal Palace to get the season underway.

Winners

Trevoh Chalobah

He scored on the opening weekend in the victory over Palace in what was a very emotional moment for the Blues academy graduate.

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Having enjoyed a strong pre-season campaign following his equally strong loan spell at Lorient last season, Chalobah has forced his way into Tuchel’s plans for 2021/22.

He’s not first choice but he is certainly knocking on the door for more meaningful and regular minutes after a very strong start to the season.

Edouard Mendy

Aside from missing a couple of games through injury, Chelsea’s number one keeper has enhanced his reputation as one of the more elite stoppers in Europe, building on a very strong second half of the campaign.

Mendy was superb in the 1-1 draw at Anfield against Liverpool with the Blues down to ten men following Reece James’ sending off, made numerous saves in the 3-0 win against Aston Villa when his teammates were nowhere near their best and is averaging 3.2 saves per game across the season.

Kepa came in and deputised very well but Mendy is the undisputed number one.

Antonio Rudiger

In a season where his contract is up for renewal, the more cynical among you might think that Rudiger’s excellent performances under Tuchel are precisely because he wants a new deal.

Rudiger can talk to clubs in Europe about a free transfer this summer from January onwards but his most recent comments suggest he is keen to stay in west London.

In all honesty, Rudiger’s high level of performance has come from being trusted by Tuchel and playing pretty much every week. He’s arguably been the Blues’ best defender so far this season, despite an off-night against Juventus, which should make the contract decision even easier.

At some point, he is going to score one of his regular 40-yard efforts on goal and the roof will blow off Stamford Bridge when he does.

Fringe players

Ross Barkley, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and the aforementioned Chalobah have benefitted from Tuchel trusting them and, also, the form of some of their teammates.

Barkley has had major contributions off the bench in the last two games while Loftus-Cheek was handed a start against Southampton after patiently waiting for a chance under Tuchel, his first Premier League start for Chelsea since the opening day of the 2020/21 season.

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Tuchel knows he has strength in depth in his squad and keeping those players, who are knocking on the door for regular starts, could be crucial in any success the Blues might have this season.



Ruben Loftus-Cheek was handed a rare Chelsea start against Southampton. (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images)
Ruben Loftus-Cheek was handed a rare Chelsea start against Southampton. (Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

Losers

Kai Havertz

The German star has had a struggle to start the campaign and found himself dropped for the visit of Southampton last Saturday.

Havertz netted a crucial goal for Chelsea in their 1-1 draw at Liverpool in late August but has suffered a real drop off in form, failing to kick on from his Champions League final winning goal against Man City back in May.

Tuchel will have been expecting more from the attacking midfielder, who has looked better playing through a central position which has now been taken by Romelu Lukaku.

Hakim Ziyech

After a very strong pre-season where he netted five goals, the Moroccan suffered a shoulder injury against Villarreal in the Super Cup and that has set him back drastically.

He has been handed chances by Tuchel but after a string of uninspiring performances, especially in Turin, he found himself benched for the win over Southampton alongside Havertz.

Ziyech’s quality is not in question, but finding consistency in his game is.

Christian Pulisic

The USMNT star has been ruled out of action since the last international break after suffering an ankle injury while away with his country.

Pulisic had a good end to last season, bagging a goal against Real Madrid in the first leg of the semi-final and setting up Mason Mount for the second leg of the Champions League tie that secured the Blues’ spot in Porto.

But it is yet another injury issue, something that has continually blighted him in London, that is once again stalling his progress.

Source by Football London

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