Chelsea beat Hull City in Saturday’s day FA Cup match, but it was another patchy performance by the Blues, along with the group still looks a ways from the sparkling form that they were in back in the fall.
One exception to this was Fikayo Tomori. After a spell from the first group, the young defender was chosen in this heavily rotated lineup and looked comfortable on his return to the scene where he played on loan two seasons ago.
In addition to providing a solid defensive platform and displaying his skill on the ball, the remarkable academy product also scored the vital second goal for his side.
It was a really mature showing from the 22-year-old, like those he was generating regularly earlier in the season. The powerful run the team went on in the Fall coincided with his introduction to the group, and Chelsea’s more recent problems came as his form faded and he was finally replaced in the group by Frank Lampard as the supervisor attempted to tinker his way out of trouble.
All of the senior centre-backs in the club have had a run in the team today, with the return of Antonio Rudiger and the change to a system that played with 3 central defenders meaning we have seen virtually every possible combination in the past couple of months.
Together with the elimination of Mateo Kovacic in the starting XI in recent games, it has been one of the most vexing calls the manager has made this year. Whatever the reasoning, Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen have were given spells alongside Rudiger, who seems to be the sole”untouchable” in the trunk line.
Whatever the cause, the junior guy in the defence was the one to overlook lately; and this weekend was a fantastic chance to regain some standing in the pecking order. It might have only been Championship resistance, but Tomori was great, and there is a real need for someone to step up and catch their location before the punishing run of fixtures which begins with Leicester off on Saturday.
A whole lot of Chelsea fans would have Tomori down as their number one choice to associate Rudiger: actually some would have him starting ahead of the prior Roma player. The complete diversity of opinion within the fanbase over who the best centre-back pairing is revealed precisely why Lampard has such a difficult time making the telephone himself but it’s also a product of his continuous switching. He’s given all them plenty of opportunities, but none of them have managed to step up and make the most, meaning that despite his endless experimentation he is no closer to a solution.
Whatever the coach elects to perform, he wants to stick with it this time.