This season has clearly been up and down for Chelsea. Not only in terms of results, but also in regards to player’s form and the form of avid Twitter users alike. Now that we have to go on without any January signings, at least we know who to expect to be thrown out on the pitch. The injuries at this club are at an all time high, and quite honestly, our form is at an all time low. On the pace we’re at, we’d end up nine points worse than when Mourinho was sacked and we trotted out Hiddink as manager (not to mention Matt Miazga and just about any other random player who has ever played for Chelsea.). That season, Chelsea’s goal difference was +6, one place below Stoke City who had a paltry -14. Who is, or is not, making a difference for Chelsea this time around?
Let’s start with who IS making a difference right now, since these players are unfortunately a rarity. The players who played well last year also, don’t need to be mentioned as there are only two; Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho. This year, we welcomed Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount, who have combined for 20 goals in roughly 2500 minutes. Christian Pulisic has also potted six of his own, but he’s been injured and is squarely out of the picture until further notice. We can celebrate Tammy and Pulisic, but the praise should go to Mason Mount. He scores, he presses, he defends and he normally cuts it performance-wise game after game. Per Transfermarkt, Mount has been on the team sheet 37 times, and appeared in 36 of those matches. Even after all of those minutes, he hasn’t really dropped a stinker which is impressive considering this is his first season with the big boys. Talk about being dependable! He has featured as a winger, a #10 and a #8. Mount has all the makings of a proper player, and he’s only getting better. He truly is the ultimate role player.
Next, I’d like to briefly mention Kurt Zouma and Fikayo Tomori, who are now rotting on the bench for no reason. I guess Frank Lampard decided that because Rudiger is our most experienced center back, he must play every match (even if it is immediately after returning from injury). Without a doubt, he is our best leader at the back. But best defender? Far from it. Zouma and Tomori impose a physically dominant partnership upon opposing teams. They are like thunder and lightning – Zouma is the hammer and Tomori is the nail. Hopefully after the Man. United disasterclass, Frank has a little sense about him when picking the team. The role of leader belongs to Cesar Azpilicueta, not Antonio Rudiger.
This might shock everyone, but a role we do not actually need filled is the backup striker and/or super sub. You know something has gone morbidly wrong when Jorginho has the second most goals for Chelsea FC midway through February. Michy Batshuayi has 6 goals to his name after 638 minutes, in 23 games. Now, admittedly this isn’t the worst return. The problem, however, is the amount of clear-cut chances Batshuayi misses (as a paid professional!), chances I’ve seen blokes convert in a Sidemen charity match with greater ease. Besides him, who can we bring on to put in a goal when we’re drawn or down? Pedro? Nonsense. The finished winger has provided one goal, the same amount as Olivier Giroud but in 600 more minutes. Giroud must receive the chance to show his World Cup winning chops from Frank Lampard if we’ve got any sniff of the top four left in our noses.
The last role that should’ve been addressed eons ago, is the backup goalkeeper. Our backup keeper is better at impersonating an adult film actor than being able to do what he is paid for (to prevent the ball from entering the net.) Honestly, Chelsea are in an absolute state to be starting none other than Willy Caballero. The 38-year old goalkeeper’s last season in which he saw 20 appearances was seven years ago at the age of 31. In 17 years as a professional, he’s appeared in a full season’s slate of games just five times. Not starting caliber at a club like ours, especially when Kepa, our record transfer fee, is now entering his prime at the age of 25 (and also much more athletic and just overall better). Among everything else, if Kepa doesn’t start the rest of the year, then we really are in for a treat as fans. The ball is in your hands now, Frank. Best of luck.