By Sneh Mazomdar – @CFCSneh
With numerous centre-back options filling up the Bridge, which partnership will be used by Lampard next season? And most importantly, what will be the best CB pairing, even if it is not used by Frank? I will be looking to answer the above questions in this article.
Let us look at some possible centre-back partnerships and whether they will work out in Chelsea’s defence or not.
This pairing was used by previous Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri during his one-season stint at SW6, as Chelsea’s first choice centre-back partnership.
Rüdiger is a very strong defender, sometimes called Chelsea’s best in his position. He can head the ball very well and performs last-ditch tackles smoothly. He is certainly a voice in the dressing room as well. In last season’s match away match against Manchester United, he was replaced by Andreas Christensen in the game since he was injured: he had a problem with his ankle and knee. We all hope that he will be back for the start of the 2019/20 season.
Luiz has plenty of experience playing against top sides, but that doesn’t stop him from giving away the ball to the opposition when he tries his classic long balls to the wingers up front, or running away from challenges which lead to goals; for example, Luka Jovic’s goal against us in the second leg of the Europa League semi-final last season was entirely Luiz’s fault. He literally ran away from the tackle, and Jovic finished with ease. David is a big father figure in the dressing room, looking at his bright side: young players look up to him and he always encourages youth and those who are new to the club to step up and deliver for Chelsea. Luiz would be very good as part of the backroom staff sometime in the future, but certainly not one of our main defenders the upcoming season.
Thus, this partnership will likely not work, since Rüdiger prefers to defend and pass the ball around the defenders, playing out from the back; while Luiz prefers long balls to the wingers (like Hudson-Odoi, Pulisic, Pedro, etc). In this process, as I said, he loses the ball very often.
Luiz also tends to move forward and go out of position a lot more, which exposes Rüdiger and leaves a gaping hole in defence.
Last season, in his Everton loan spell, Kurt Zouma prove that we was a top-class defender, and we had a real talent in our midst. With his amazing last-ditch tackles and heading, I won’t be surprised if he became one of our most essential players next season under Frank Lampard.
He certainly isn’t as good as Van Dijk, Vertonghen and Alderweireld: in fact, far from it. But if we develop him correctly and give him the chance as one of Chelsea’s CBs next season, he could quickly become as quality a defender as the names mentioned above, or even better.
Everton fans were very pleased with him last season, and are still certainly hoping that Chelsea will return Kurt to them for another loan spell.
This formation could work amazingly, because both Zouma and Rüdiger have the same method of playing out from the back and are alike each other in terms of defending prowess, speed, stamina and more.
Andreas Christensen was an amazing player for us last season, giving several world-class performances in big matches, prominently the Europa League final.
Christensen played incredibly well that night in Baku. His defending was clinical. Arsenal’s strikers could have scored several goals when we were exposed in defence, but Christensen denied them an incredible number of times with excellent sliding tackles. I could see short bursts of Conte’s Christensen in the final. And not only that, we cleared the ball quite a few times in dangerous areas. I couldn’t distinguish between him and a brick wall!
The only problem with Andreas, I think, is his very poor mentality, with Sarri saying he gets very nervous before big games. If he improves that after his amazing performance in the EL Final (which I have described briefly above) he will soon be a world-class defender.
Christensen played with Rüdiger a few times last season, but I think this combination will have to be tested out more often; since Andreas also prefers shooting long balls to the wingers upfront, like Luiz, but can also play out from the back. This partnership will need to be experimented upon next season.
As I said before, Andreas likes giving long balls to the defenders upfront but is equally as good with playing out from the back. Zouma fits that style too.
This partnership would work very well in the SW6; and it will obviously be favoured by fans: but I doubt Lampard will drop two of our main defenders last season in the bat of an eye. In the 20/21 season, this partnership may be a very good option; but currently, this pairing needs to be worked upon.
Some honourable mentions of defenders that are still very young, but could still improve and become a part of Chelsea’s amazing dossier of CBs the coming seasons.
Ethan Ampadu – Fikayo Tomori – Jake Clarke-Salter