Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel did this for the first time since taking charge at the bridge, which is very surprising to everyone.
Thomas Tuchel has certainly caused shock with his lineup for
the visit of Aston Villa this evening at Stamford Bridge.
Most notably, the omissions of Captain Cesar Azpilicueta,
Jorginho and Mason Mount, three key regulars who are all
influential characters within the current first-team squad. It is
rare to see a Chelsea eleven without any of the trio, so rare
that this is the first time Tuchel has fielded a Premier League
side without one. Is that a risk?
Especially when you factor in the events of the previous two
encounters with Villa last season, as Dean Smith took 4
points off us.
The only other grumble personally is the omission again of
Ben Chilwell who has yet to play any competitive minutes this
season. The fact that others are gaining their first minutes of
the season in Tuchel’s mass rotation, are there more reasons
for the England fullback to be concerned?
For all the celebrity nonsense in Manchester, Romelu
Lukaku’s return to Stamford Bridge has somehow gone under
the radar, but it is an emotional moment. He looks to be in
an attacking two with Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech
naturally dropping deeper to pick up the ball in more central
Ziyech was brilliant in pre-season and netted in the Super
Cup before his injury, he can make a big impression this year
and this will hopefully be the first of many positive steps for
Saul Niguez does get his first start for the club after his
deadline day loan from Atletico Madrid. The ankle injury to
N’Golo Kante only further highlights the importance of this
signing and with Tuchel’s praise of the Spaniard, will
hopefully be able to rediscover his best form in a new
Trevoh Chalobah has now started both of the league games
at the Bridge this season, following his star performance and
brilliant strike against Palace.
Thiago Silva starts after all of the chaos surrounding a
potential FIFA ban for Brazilian players in the Premier League.
He was brilliant during the second half against Liverpool, so
hopefully he can put in an assured performance tonight.
Lastly of note is the return of Callum Hudson-Odoi who starts
at right-wingback. Hudson-Odoi was understandably pushing
for a loan move in the closing days of the window after no
minutes in the first three league games. But this is a pleasant
surprise for Callum to be given a chance after so much
debate over his future.
Even if I would like to see Callum in his favoured left-sided
role, this is an improvement and the winger showed last term
he can be impactful on that wing influencing our build-up
which heavily relies on our wing-backs providing width.
I’m always fearful of Danny Ings – who has 2 goals in his last
4 against the Blues. But this is the sort of occasion Chelsea
need to prove they are capable of dominating with style,
rather than stumbling in baffling fashion. More than the bigger
clashes against fellow title rivals, these types of games will
likely define Tuchel’s title ambitions.