Antonio Rüdiger was back in the matchday squad on Saturday, just as he was on Tuesday, which followed a complete absence for six straight in all competitions, since mid-September. And while he didn’t feature against either Manchester United or Sevilla as Chelsea kept consecutive (and rare) clean sheets, the 27-year-old’s presence ahead of Andreas Christensen and Fikayo Tomori on Saturday has been seen as a sign of future involvement. (All three were on the bench on Tuesday since UEFA allows for 12 substitutes to be named rather than the 7 in the Premier League.)
In fact, according to reports in both the Telegraph and the Daily Mail, Rüdiger is indeed hopeful of making his season debut soon, after a “heart-to-heart” with the manager.
Of course, the problem for Lampard and Chelsea remains that we have one too many center backs, since neither Rüdiger nor Tomori were able to or willing to agree to last-minute loans before the transfer window shut earlier this month. And since it looks like Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma are the preferred partnership at the moment (with César Azpilicueta the third man if a back-three is utilized), there won’t be many minutes to go around for the others.
If Lampard has truly and finally found a defensive combination that might help us stop leaking goals for the first time in his tenure as manager, the prospects of Rüdiger, Christensen, or Tomori will be quite limited despite a busy schedule (every game is turning into a must-win), which will undoubtedly lead to plenty of January speculation, especially with the first two entering the last 18 months of their contracts.