In another episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Dan (Host – @DanBarkerCoach) is joined by Paree (Owner- @CFCParee) & Danny (Writer – @danny_new_) to discuss Chelsea’s 7-0 incredible victory against Norwich with a Mason Mount man of the match performance, Hudson-Odoi and Reece James goal, Chilwell screamer, Loftus-Cheek assist and so much more on a great day for Cobham!
I am not really sure how we’re still having this conversation. People get carried away like nothing and it seems as if some Chelsea fans had done when Jorginho and Kovacic were putting up sound performances again under Thomas Tuchel in the three at the back formation. Admittedly, the partnership worked well and they were moving the ball a lot quicker than we’ve seen them do before, but it really shouldn’t be a surprise that they were able to do so against the weaker teams.
Yes, Spurs are a good team, but they didn’t press us in midfield, and not many other teams did. But, our first opposition who expected to give us problems in midfield was Southampton, and they certainly did. Kovacic gave the ball away a few times in bad positions, and Jorginho’s 10 minute substitute cameo was shocking. Kante lacked the final pass, but at least looked extremely comfortable defensively, making multiple tackles and interceptions.
After Southampton, we had Atletico Madrid last night, again another obvious challenge for Jovacic. I tweeted at 18:40 yesterday that not starting the French midfielder was pretty criminal, as I simply do not think this Jorginho-Kovacic partnership is good enough for the big games. They do not have any positional awareness, and even though we had a lot of possession yesterday we failed to create much through the centre. I understand that Kante’s not amazing in progressing the ball but even Jorginho struggled to make some simple passes yesterday, and N’Golo is better defensively, so he really should’ve started, right?
Anyway, here’s a tactical analysis of some of the moments in our Champions League game which got me screaming at the TV and *specifically at Jorginho*, but Kovacic can take the responsibility with him because why not. At the end of this article I’ll try and give my solution to what I’d do in midfield, but if I’m being honest, I never have and never will be convinced by Jovacic. (Sarri Twitter please don’t come for me). All images via hdmatches.net.
Half a minute into the game, and it started off terribly. Kovacic picked up the ball on the left hand side which is fine, and had Alonso and Mount in front of him. For some reason, Jorginho runs all the way over to Kovacic. Mateo attempts to pass it to the Italian midfielder, who gets muscled off the ball like nothing, and, as you can see in the image, leaves so much space in behind him. Mason Mount had to track back and pick up a yellow card to stop their counter which is normally ruthless, and now he misses the second leg. This pretty much summed up the next 5 minutes, where we on another day may have found ourselves 2-0 down.
We lose the ball high up the pitch, which is fine. If there’s one place you want to lose the ball it’s high up, so you still have your midfielders back to track back. Oh nevermind, not with Jovacic. For some reason, Jorginho follows his man who drops deep into Atletico’s half, and obviously he was never going to win the ball when chasing someone (mainly because it’s Jorginho but I won’t let my agenda be clear too much). He gets easily turned, and the opposition had the chance to break with a lot of space. In this case, Kovacic did well and forced them to the right hand side which slowed them down, but it’s still another example of the gap between the midfielders being way too big.
8 minutes in, and I’m already on three screenshots, yikes. That distance between Kovacic and Jorginho isn’t actually that bad, but when they have 4 quite narrow as they do here, that’s a problem. Ideally, Jorginho takes a touch and passes it to Kovacic, but instead he misplaces a pass to Mount which is easily intercepted and once again they break on the counter, this time almost creating a huge chance at the back post. Kovacic is too high up the pitch to come back in time and fortunately our defence bailed us out this time.
In this image, Jorginho gets caught in two minds once again. Saul pushed forward a bit from his deeper position, and Jorginho had to choose between pressing him or sitting back and waiting for him to come. Jorginho decides to try and tackle their midfielder, but chooses 2 seconds too late and he plays a simple 1-2 with Joao Felix to go past the Italian very easily. Space is easily found behind Jovacic and they create another chance, which this time was cleared by Rudiger after some lovely football.
My stream has paused and I think I should probably leave it there as I’ve posted 4 images in 12 minutes, so I’m sure there’s a lot more in the other 80 minutes of the game which I’ll leave you to find. Next time they play together, just have a look at them, and you’ll see the amount of space they leave behind them. Here’s a clip of Jorginho getting skimmed which backs my point, and to be honest, it’s quite funny.
I’d also like to make this clear: this is not Jorginho or Kovacic slander. This is simply my opinion and I actually quite like both – I think Jorginho seems like a great presence in the dressing room and that Kovacic is a brilliant squad player to have. But are they able to take us to the next level? And while playing together? I really don’t think so.
So what would I do? It’s difficult, for sure. First of all I’d definitely start Kante – that’s a must for me. He runs around so much and is brilliant defensively – and people act as if he’s much worse than the others on the ball. He really isn’t. Then, it’s not easy, but I do want to see Mount next to him. Our good friend Konark got quite a lot of hate for suggesting this, but I really do think this could be our future. Mount mastered the #8 role under Frank Lampard, and next to Kante could show some real balance. He’s played a very similar role next to Declan Rice for England, and I have no doubts he could do the same in Blue. He’s also taking up one of the front three positions at the moment, meaning Pulisic, Havertz, and Ziyech all find themselves on the bench, but by dropping back he could open up some space for one more of our attacking threats. My next option would be Billy Gilmour by preference, but that’s not happenning, so probably Kovacic, who definitely can put in a brilliant performance when he wants. In other words, no Jorginho please. I repeat – Sarri fans please do not come for me.
Through the years at Chelsea, many players have come and gone. Many players are favoured by particular managers, then once that manager is gone, the player loses his touch. It’s a vicious cycle that can seriously tarnish a player’s ability. In this piece, I’m going to discuss how Thomas Tuchel can prevent this from happening with Mateo Kovacic.
Kovacic has been a fantastic addition to the Chelsea side since his arrival in 2018. ‘Kova’ shone in his season-long loan spell, enough to earn himself a permanent move to the Bridge last season. During last season, the Croatian set the pitch alight, with stand out performances throughout the season. This secured him the Club’s Player of the Season award, a credit to his ability and performances.
Despite the accolade, there remained a lot missing in his game. Kova struggles with precision in the final third and can be relatively weak defensively. With that being said, since Tuchel arrived at the Bridge, he has reignited a fire inside Mateo that is becoming very clear to see. In his first five league games under Tuchel, Kovacic has proved just how important he can be when he performs to this high standard. Over the five games, Mateo has racked up a pass accuracy percentage of 91% and has completed 16 of his 18 attempted dribbles. Quite the achievement.It is no doubt that one of his strongest qualities is his pristine dribbling, which is evident to see when he glides around the pitch, almost effortlessly. Remind you of anyone? That’s right, a certain Eden Hazard. Kova also has impeccable ball retention, and rarely looks nervous when in possession. In Chelsea’s recent game against Newcastle, Kovacic showed just how important he is to Chelsea by displaying a more ambitious side to his game. Mateo is excellent at acquiring the ball from deep and driving it into open space. One thing he is lacking is that attacking mindset, to visualise where the runners are and pick out that key pass, which if he implements into his game, Chelsea will be scoring for fun.
Kovacic also needs to develop more of an eye for goal. We have seen it on the odd occasion, the Croatian can strike a ball. Valencia in the Champions League and Everton away last season proved this. The issue is, it is such a rarity that he attempts the shot. Chelsea ultimately lack a real goal scoring midfielder, as Kante will turn on a swivel and pass back to Rudiger if his vision of the goal is slightly blocked, so Kova being more of an attacking threat would create more opportunities for Chelsea to score. With goalscoring added to his arsenal, there really is no ceiling for the 26-year-old.
As Tuchel outlined after Newcastle, the whole squad often struggle with decision making. This is especially detectable with Kovacic. It’s clear to see just how imaginative Kova can be at times, the problem is that we just don’t see it enough. I feel Kovacic is weakest when paired alongside Jorginho. Now, this is in no way a negative opinion towards either player, it is just that together, they offer us little. The two can often get caught up in a possession loop of which looks attractive but limits our chance creation. It is no question just how versatile Kovacic can be, but can Tuchel pull those hidden qualities out of Kovacic and get him to the next level?
Thomas Tuchel has already proven that if something isn’t working, he will change it. Changes at half-time are relatively rare at Chelsea. Frank Lampard would often wait too late to make a change, which would limit the time the substitutes had to make an impact. With Tuchel’s ruthless attitude, I think the players will feel they have a lot more to fight for and must work harder than ever to secure their place in the side. If Tuchel can get the player who dominated against Newcastle every week, Chelsea have a serious player on their hands.
Chelsea have already confirmed the signings of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech and are expected to have a busy transfer window with the club looking to offload a number of squad players.
But where do the new signings rank amongst the squad? Who should be starting every week? Who needs to be sold?
Well, here’s my rankings from “Star player” down to “Must be sold”
As you can see, the list is quite ‘bottom heavy’ with a large number of players thrown into the must be sold category. The likes of Bakayoko, Batshuayi and Pedro feature as they look destined to be moved on by the club and I doubt many Chelsea fans would disagree. There are, however, some admittedly controversial picks in this tier.
Jorginho is a player who has drastically divided the fanbase ever since he signed for the club in 2018. Since the restart, Jorginho has been out-of-favour and Chelsea managed to win four out of the five league games in which the Italian midfielder didn’t start, scoring an impressive 12 goals in the process. Due to injuries to both N’Golo Kanté and Billy Gilmour, Lampard was forced to hand Jorginho his first start against Sheffield United and The Blues were thumped 3-0 with many describing the performance as the “worst of the season” and Jorginho faced the brunt of the criticism due to a lacklustre display. Despite beating Norwich 1-0, Chelsea put in another fairly disappointing display which lacked urgency, tempo and attacking quality. Yet again, Jorginho started this game and for me, he’s a big part of the problem.
I personally don’t dislike Antonio Rudiger as much as most Chelsea fans seem to. I think he does offer some leadership and certainly has a physical presence which most of his peers lack, however if I’m being completely honest (and harsh) he simply cannot defend.
He’s a central defender… who can’t defend!
So, not only do I think Rudiger should be moved on but I also believe his calamitous partner Andreas Christensen has had more than enough chances at the club. These two are an actual comedy spectacle when they line up next to each other and while Andreas is still young and could improve, I just don’t think he’s suited to be a Premier League centre-half. Although he’s welcome to prove me wrong!
Finally from the bottom tier, Kepa has to be sold. I’ve never witnessed a goalkeeper at the top level struggle to stop shots so badly. The club are reportedly interested in Jan Oblak and Andre Onana, both of whom would massively improve our squad, so Arrizabalaga has to go.
Just as a caveat, Willian has been included in the ‘must be sold’ category solely based on his contract situation, otherwise I’d be happy for him to stick around for a year as a squad player.
The boys in the ‘loan’ list are fairly self explanatory. The teenage lads from the academy could do with a season on loan in the Championship or even League 1 to get acclimated with senior football. I’ve chucked Kenedy in there too just because I think he’s hugely underrated so I’d like the club to keep him on the books, but it looks likely that he’ll be leaving on a permanent basis.
The squad players section was fairly easy for me. Not all 23 first-teamers can be ‘world class’ (unless you’re Manchester City) so we need a solid bench consisting of players who can come into the squad when needed and make an impact. Players who “offer something different” are key throughout a squad and the likes of Olivier Giroud,Ross Barkley and Marcos Alonso all tick that box. Giroud has proven his value since the restart and is still a goal threat, while Barkley has actually impressed at times throughout the season and by all accounts works extremely hard to improve himself. The reason I’d keep Alonso around is because he gives us the option to switch to a three-at-the-back system whereas Emerson, for me, just offers very little.
There’s absolutely no reason why both Billy Gilmour and Tammy Abraham cannot be starters next season. They both have the quality as they have proven already, but due the signing of Timo Werner and Lampard moving Kanté into a deeper role, I think that they may not be nailed on to start week-in week-out next year but both will certainly play a crucial role in the long-term.
The regular starters that I’ve selected are a perfect blend of youth and experience in my opinion. Azpilicueta has proven to still be a quality captain and player throughout the season and I believe that Frank Lampard is a big fan of the spaniard, Reece James is also battling for the same position though and deserves to be a starter so we may see ‘Dave’ continue to feature as a left-back. However, if we do sign Tagliafico, Telles, Chilwell or whoever it may be then that could knock one of Azpilicueta or James down a tier.
It’s pretty much impossible to fit all of Kovacic, Mount and Loftus-Cheek into one starting eleven but all three players offer different skill sets which are incredibly valuable to this Chelsea side. Mason Mount has been the club’s player of the season for me, his quality both on and off the ball is outstanding and to have contributed so much in his debut Premier League season is hugely impressive. He’s absolutely key to Frank’s system and therefore should and will start the majority of games next season wether we sign Havertz or not.
I honestly believe that a fully fit Ruben Loftus-Cheek is one of the best players in the Premier League. He’s the definition of ‘complete midfielder’ and can offer both a goal threat and be a creative outlet. His physical strength combined with immense technical ability when in full flight makes him a defender’s nightmare and if he can get back to his best next season then he has to be a starter.
Fikayo Tomori and Callum Hudson-Odoi have both suffered injury problems as of late but are two of England’s brightest talents. Zouma and Tomori’s partnership in the first half of the season was far from perfect but was certainly the most encouraging central defensive set-up we’ve seen. Chelsea fans rightly love Hudson-Odoi and despite all of his off-the-pitch issues this season he has the quality to set the standard for young Premier League players next season.
Werner, Ziyech, Pulisic, Kantè. Is that the best “big four” since the Warriors lined up with Curry, Thompson, Draymond and KD?
Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech are nailed on to be top, top players next season for Chelsea. They’re two of the most dynamic and exciting players in the Premier League and will improve Chelsea’s already strong attack ten-fold. Christian Pulisic’s form since the restart has all Blues fans convinced that he’s the real deal, adding goals to his game and beginning to remind fans of a certain Eden Hazard due to his immense dribbling ability. N’Golo Kanté’s inclusion as a star player needs no justification, despite injury issues this year he’s clearly a world class player who would start for any and every team in Europe.
So, that’s my personal ranking of next season’s Chelsea squad. Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know @TheChelseaSpot
*I (stupidly) forgot to include Ethan Ampadu in this tier list. Personally I’d like to see him as a squad player next season but he could benefit from another loan.
Questions have been flying around on social media over what happens to the midfield next year: Who’s starting? Who’s going to be left out? Who should we sell? Well, in this article, I try and answer all of the questions. The key word there is ‘try’, because if I’m being totally honest, we don’t have a clue what Frank Lampard is going to do.
Let’s have a look at the midfield. In the midfield for next season, we have a hugely talented list: Kovacic, Kante, Jorginho, Mount, Loftus-Cheek, Ziyech, Barkley, Gilmour, Ampadu, Gallagher and Anjorin. Eleven midfielders who Frank has to somehow entertain, whether that is on loan or kept, or even to be sold. Let’s go through each player…
Kovacic. Most people would say this season’s best player for Chelsea. He has just been outstanding, and his progress from Sarri to Lampard has been unbelievable to watch. We can always rely on the Croatian midfielder, with him even picking up a few goals, something which Chelsea fans never thought they would see. He’s guaranteed to stay next season and should be starting almost every single game.
Kante. The French midfielder has struggled this season especially with injuries, and this has led to many Chelsea fans debating whether it could be worth trying to cash out in the Summer. There is no doubt he has got tons of talent and on his day is one of the best midfielders in the world, but at the age of 29, he may be coming towards the latter stages of his career. I assume that he will still be here next season, but we never know what the board will do.
Jorginho. Another very difficult situation with the Italian. He has turned the fans’ perspective of himself in just a season, with boos turning into cheers. However, despite improving in the Premier League this season, he has still struggled a bit and hasn’t managed to hit the form which he struck at the beginning of the season. With being a vocal leader on and off the pitch, as well as taking the vice-captaincy role, I assume he will also stay next season at Chelsea.
Mount. The English midfielder has certainly had ups and downs this season, showing impressive signs for a first season in the English First Division. His form dipped after playing many games through injury and having a long wait for a goal, but he managed to get through the season and started to regain his best form after the international break. He is definitely going nowhere this season.
Loftus-Cheek. Unfortunately, Ruben was just getting back into the groove with training, but didn’t manage to get an appearance for the first team this season. His injury problems are something to keep an eye on, with him hitting the age of 24 with only 70 Premier League appearances under his belt. I certainly would keep him, as he’s such a talented player, and Lampard surely can’t wait to include him into the squad as one of the more experienced players.
Ziyech. Our new Moroccan signing is someone who Chelsea fans cannot wait to see play at the Bridge, but his debut may be delayed as we currently do not know what is going to happen with the COVID situation. We are also unaware whether he has been signed to play on the wing or in the midfield, but his versitality is something we will enjoy. Obviously, he’ll be here next season, and we cannot wait to see him play in the Blue shirt.
We’re already six midfielders in, and personally I feel that they will all stay at the club. The average club keeps aroudn 6-7 midfielders, so these next few choices will be very interesting…
Barkley. Ross has certainly had more downs than ups this season, with off the pitch mentality certainly causing problems in the media. However, Lampard has praised his hard-work in the last few months and is a big fan of the English midfielder. He is one who certainly has the talent, yet is so frustrating because we only see this talent a couple times a season. I love the player, but personally for me, it’ll be time to say goodbye.
Gilmour. The Scottish Iniesta, as they say. Recently impressing the world with two Man of the Match Performances in a row against Liverpool and Everton, he certainly will be here next season. The perfect young player to have, who can play almost anywhere in the midfield, as well as having the mentality and ability to go right to the very top.
Ampadu. The Welshman has received little game time at his loan spell in Germany, leaving many Chelsea fans disapppointed. However, he definitely would have learnt many new skills with top players around him, and we all know the immense talent he has. For me, he is one who should stay at the club and we would have seen a real improvement in his game, showing glimpses of what he can be with his Champions League performance against Spurs.
Gallagher. Conor is a player who I have doubted many times over the last few seasons, and was shocked to see him pick up the Player of the Season for the academy last year. However, he has proved me completely wrong, and shown huge signs at both Charlton and Swansea. Saying that, I would still try and send him on loan to a Premier League club next season where he can get some proper experience, especially as he may struggle to break into the Chelsea first team next season.
Anjorin. And finally, Tino. The Chelsea Spot understand that the plan has always been for Anjorin to stay at the club and try and breakthrough directly like Hudson-Odoi and Gilmour have done. However, things may have obviously changed in the last few months since we heard this news, and it may best for him to go try and get some gametime, as we all know he is way too good for youth football.
I haven’t gone into too much detail on some of the players as possible, as in the next few days there will be more detailed articles on The Chelsea Spot on what to do with Kante and Barkley, so make sure to follow us on all our social media platforms!
So, we’ve gone through all the players. I’ll now try and summarise what I think Frank Lampard will do next season…
Most likely to start – Ziyech, Loftus-Cheek, Kovacic and Kante.
In contention to start – Mount, Jorginho, Gilmour.
Loan – Gallagher, Ampadu, Anjorin.
Sell – Barkley.
What would you do with our midfielders? Who would you sell or keep? Let us know on our social media or in our comments below!