Defenders have found the back of the net 16 times for Chelsea this season and Ben Chilwell has played his part in producing that tally. Indeed, the England international has scored three goals in six Premier League appearances at left-back, but that still does not illustrate his importance for Thomas Tuchel’s side.
While Chilwell has been slow to find his feet at Stamford Bridge, the 24-year-old has become a key figure for Chelsea this season. Not only does he threaten the Blues, but he gives them an outlet. Chilwell is Chelsea’s entire left wing in that he is able to reach both lines on the defensive and attacking side of the ball.
This is why Chilwell’s recent knee injury has dealt such a blow to morale at Stamford Bridge. The Guardian claim Chelsea are concerned the full-back will be sidelined for the remainder of the season with damage to the anterior cruciate ligaments. While the extent of the injury isn’t that bad, it’s surely inevitable that Chilwell will be sidelined for a while.
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“This worries me because he [Chilwell] was having a fantastic time, like Reece [James] on the other side, âexplained Tuchel after the categorical 4-0 victory over Juventus in the Champions League on Tuesday night, during which was embittered by the sight of Chilwell limping before the end.
âThey were in the best possible shape, so strong and so full of confidence and with so much quality. Chilly has a severe pain in his knee and he was in great pain. Now that he’s feeling a little better, we’ll have a review tomorrow to be more specific. We hope for the best and it’s not too bad news.
If that’s bad news, Tuchel may need to rethink his approach. Of course Marcos Alonso could replace Chilwell, but there are concerns about the Spaniard’s ability and knowledge of the defensive side of the ball. This is important considering how Tuchel has built his Chelsea side on a solid defensive base.
Ian Maatsen could be recalled from his loan spell at Coventry City where he thrived in the first half of the season with the Dutch teenager a key member of the squad currently fourth in the league. However, the 19-year-old would surely only be a depth option rather than Chilwell’s replacement.
Tuchel’s favored 3-4-2-1 system gives Chelsea the opportunity to reuse at least one of their wide attackers. Callum Hudson-Odoi has recently thrived in his prime position on the left side of the top three, but he could be deployed to the back of the left wing if necessary. He has, after all, played back wing on the right side before this season.
BERNE, SWITZERLAND – SEPTEMBER 14: Luke Shaw of Manchester United is challenged by Christopher Martins Pereira and Christian Fassnacht of Young Boys in the UEFA Champions League Group F match between BSC Young Boys and Manchester United at Stadion Wank
Image credit: Getty Images
Chilwell’s absence will also give Gareth Southgate something to think about. The Chelsea man recently upped the pecking order for England with Luke Shaw in such poor form for Manchester United, but an injury at Chilwell could force the national team boss to consider different options.
Bukayo Saka could be used at the back, but beyond that England’s talent pool at left-back is certainly shallower than at right-back. Southgate may just have to hope that Chilwell and Shaw are fit and available again by the time the 2022 World Cup takes place in Qatar.
Tuchel, however, doesn’t have time to simply wait for his problems to resolve. Chelsea cannot let their standard slip with the competition at the top of the Premier League table so stiff. How the Blues react to the loss of one of their most important players could play a role in whether their season succeeds or fails.
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