Chelsea’s top 5 players of the season so far as Tuchel’s side top Premier League

After winning last season’s Champions League, Thomas Tuchel entered his first full season as Chelsea manager knowing all eyes would be on his side and whether they could mount a Premier League title challenge.

For all intents and purposes, it’s a case of so far, so good for the German head coach and his side.

With 11 games down, the Blues sit three points clear of champions Manchester City and surprise package West Ham, with Liverpool a point further back. They’ve been beaten only once thus far.

Tuchel’s side boast the league’s best defence, conceding just four times, and have scored 27 – only Liverpool have found the net more often – with the goals being shared across the team, their top scorers in all competitions so far currently sitting on four.

Chelsea’s midfielder Kai Havertz celebrates with teammates after scoring – but he doesn’t make the top five

The German has also rotated effectively, with 24 players already starting a Premier League fixture this term, while they’re into the Carabao Cup last eight, and on the verge of the Champions League knockout stages once more.

Don’t forget, they also claimed early season silverware with victory in the UEFA Super Cup.

Going into the third international break of the season, Mirror Football takes a look at the players that have been most impressive for the Blues thus far this term.

You can also make your choice for Chelsea’s star performer so far in our survey below.

5. Mateo Kovacic

Just pipping Andreas Christensen – who has been largely excellent so far – into fifth spot, the Croatian midfielder has been excellent at the heart of the action.

With N’Golo Kante’s injury issues keeping him from being a regular starter, Kovacic, now 27, has stepped unto the plate.

Tuchel is a huge fan of his attitude and what he brings to the side: “You can call him at 3am and call him for tactical training, defensive training, set-piece training and he will be there with a smile for what is needed. He is such a fantastic guy. A fantastic team player.”

No-one has registered more assists than his five so far, and his 34 passes from open play leading to shot opportunities is well clear of the club’s next-best (Jorginho, 25).

4. Reece James

Reece James of Chelsea celebrates his first goal during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Chelsea at St. James Park


Getty Images)

Last summer, Chelsea let the club’s highest-rated 18-year-old depart to Southampton for just £5million as Tino Livramento made his way to the south coast for regular action. The reason: Reece James.

Livramento’s star is shining brightly for the Saints, and the expectation is that after a couple of years growth; there’s a belief that by that time James could be wearing the captain’s armband and have moved to the heart of Chelsea’s defence.

Until then, we’ll just have to enjoy his at times obscene displays at right wing-back.

James, 21, has found himself in and out of the lineup, but his continued improvement is making it harder and harder to ever justify leaving him out.

He destroyed Arsenal in the second game of the campaign, assisting Romelu Lukaku before scoring himself, and his two unerring finishes against Newcastle recently again showcased his firepower.

His four goals in all competitions mean he is currently joint-top scorer, while only Kovacic has more assists. According to Statsbomb data, his non-penalty xG+xA per 90 minutes stands at 0.51, while no-one has made more key passes so far this term than his 18.

He only ranks 14th for minutes played so far, but expect him to rise higher on that list as the season progresses, particularly as he continues improving his one-vs-one defending and defensive positioning on Tuchel’s watch.

3. Jorginho

Jorginho has continued where he left off last term

Excellent for Chelsea in last season’s Champions League triumph and for Italy during their Euro 2020 success – which combined played a big role in his being named UEFA Player of the Season – Jorginho has picked up where he left off this term.

Labelled “sensational” by Blues assistant boss Zsolt Löw, he remains the brains at the heart of this Chelsea side, directing those around him, raising and dropping the tempo with his passing while changing points of attack.

Tuchel admits he is wary of overplaying the 29-year-old at this current juncture in the campaign, such is his desire to have Jorginho fresh when we get into the deep waters of the season.

Yet, he ranks third for minutes played in all competitions and only Kai Havertz has appeared in more matches, such is his importance.

Certainly it’s a balancing act, but one which the team’s overall performance, and that of the Brazilian-born Italian, suggests manager and player are getting right.

2. Antonio Rudiger

Antonio Rudiger has been brilliant for Chelsea this season


Visionhaus/Getty Images)

His contract situation remains a cause for consternation at Stamford Bridge, and that’s because the Germany international is at the top of his game right now.

Rio Ferdinand reckons he might be the best centre-back in the Premier League right now and the 28-year-old has been nothing short of outstanding.

Tuchel’s trust has been a key reason behind Rudiger’s rise to prominence since Frank Lampard’s exit at the start of the year and no-one has made more starts or played more minutes for the club so far in the current campaign.

And while his defensive capabilities have garnered widespread praise, Rudigers’ ability to build play from the back has been crucial. No one has completed more passes, played more passes into the opposition final third, or carried the ball further, according to Statsbomb data.

Now very much a cult figure with supporters, he’s doing his bid to earn a big pay increase no harm at all.

1. Edouard Mendy

Edouard Mendy of Chelsea celebrates after his side’s victory in the Premier League match between Brentford and Chelsea

To say that Edouard Mendy’s Ballon d’Or snub hasn’t sat well is like saying the Titanic’s sole voyage enocuntered some difficulties.

“Honestly, I am wondering,” Mendy told Canal Plus when asked about his omission again this week. “If I had played for France and had taken part in Euro 2020, would we have this debate and this reflection?”

Senegal and Liverpool ace Sadio Mane labelled it “unacceptable”, Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly declared it “a shame” and some Chelsea pals have questioned the decision – whether on social media or with mockery at the club’s Cobham training base.

But it hasn’t derailed the 29-year-old in any way, with the ex-Rennes stopper going from strength-to-strength between the sticks.

Yes he has a very well organised side in front of him, playing its part in the side conceding just four league goals thus far. But when you take into account their xGA (expected goals against) in the 10 games he has played – he missed the 3-0 win at Spurs – stands at 10.7, the difference the mountainous Senegalese is making becomes clear.

Dive deeper into the minutiae and, again according to Statsbomb data, no ‘keeper in the top flight has a better PSxG+/- (Post-shot expected goals minus goals allowed) figure than his +2.6, suggesting he is far, far exceeding the norm

His display against Brentford, when his side came under mounting pressure, was the finest goalkeeping display of the season so far and he has made crucial saves in big matches throughout.

As the Blues top the table, he’s No.1 among their squad so far this season.

Read More

Read More

Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button