Thomas Tuchel likes to tinker with his squad but if he were to name a strongest side that he could possible, what would it look like?
Trying to work out what is your possible strongest starting lineup is a question that many managers will ask themselves over the course of a season.
Who is fit? Who is definitely out? Who is in form? Who very much isn’t in form? All of these and more will go into a coach’s thinking when it comes to picking his team.
Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel is a very analytical man and will go through all manner of processes when it comes to picking his team for a certain game. That is why we often see the Chelsea manager change his side each week.
It came at a cost when Chelsea played Arsenal last season in the Premier League and were beaten 1-0 having made seven changes to their side, with Tuchel admitting afterwards he didn’t realise he had made so many alterations to his team.
The Premier League returns this weekend following the conclusion of the international break, the second one of the season already, and Chelsea have seven games between now and the next international hiatus in mid-November.
Four of those are in the Premier League as they take on Brentford, Norwich, Newcastle and Burnley. There is also the Champions League double-header with Group H whipping boys Malmo, firstly in London and then the return in Sweden on November 2 while there is also a Carabao Cup fourth round tie against Southampton to negotiate on October 26.
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Tuchel is likely to pick multiple different teams for those games as he rotates his squad following a hectic start to the season but if he were to have one “strongest side” that he could put out every week between now and the next break, what might it look like?
It will be Edouard Mendy in goal for the strongest side. Kepa is likely to get a run out against Southampton in the League Cup and it also wouldn’t be a surprise if the Spanish No.2 played one of the two games against Malmo in the Champions League.
But in the first choice XI, Mendy – nominated for the Best Goalkeeper in the World this year – will get the nod in between the sticks.
When Reece James gets back to fitness then he should be a part of the backline, be it as a wing-back or a right-sided centre-half, but it is pretty clear that for Chelsea to be at their best they need pace at wing-back.
So that means James and Ben Chilwell would feature in the strongest side; then there is the decision of who plays at centre-half.
Antonio Rudiger is an automatic pick so it’s between Andreas Christensen, Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and Trevoh Chalobah for who lines up alongside them. On paper, a back three of Azpilicueta, Christensen and Rudiger would be the strongest for consistency as Thiago Silva can’t play as many games as the others, especially in quick succession.
Jorginho is an automatic pick like Rudiger for Tuchel’s XI despite his immense workload over the 10 months since the German arrived at the club to replace Lampard.
Who plays alongside him is the question. Mateo Kovacic has had a good start to the season but with the emergence of Ruben Loftus-Cheek from the wilderness back into contention, Kovacic’s place isn’t perhaps as secure as it once was.
N’’Golo Kante is back from his Covid quarantine as well, and as he is one of the best midfielders on the planet it is hard to ignore him.
Chelsea have two definite starters in their strongest XI for the attacking area, and that is Romelu Lukaku and Mason Mount.
Mount was hugely missed in the two games he was absent for prior to the break, as Chelsea lost them both and looked somewhat ponderous in attack without the England international in there.
Tuchel said he didn’t sign Lukaku for a club-record £97.5million to have him sit on the bench.
So that leaves Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Kai Havertz and the currently injured Christian Pulisic all vying for one place in the side.
On current form, Werner gets in but it is certainly hard to ignore Havertz, despite his recent struggles on the pitch for the Blues.