Antonio Rüdiger made his first Premier League appearance of the season on Saturday. And it was ... good.
It was just his second start and third appearance overall for Chelsea, but those numbers are all trending in a positive direction. Just a few weeks ago, Toni looked one foot out the door. Now he looks to be third-choice center back and the preferred deputy for Thiago Silva.
And while he was synonymous last season with the defense not living up to expectations, he’s yet concede a goal this season. Lampard’s obviously hoping that trend continues, which would justify his choice of picking the older player over younger Academy grads in Fikayo Tomori and Andreae Christensen.
“I was pleased with his performance. I talked about it before the game that a lot of managers would love to have five centre-backs but it brings difficulties as you can only pick two if playing in a back four and then two or three are unhappy. It’s not easy to come straight into a team if not playing so regularly and perform. That means you need a good attitude throughout the week and a good attitude in how they prepare.
“I’ve got confidence in Toni. I think he came in and thought his performance alongside Kurt they were very strong. Anything that came in the box they dealt with very well. They had a lot of the ball and they moved it well. I’m really happy as it’s hugely important to have a strong squad this year with the schedule as it is. For Toni to come in and play and keep a clean sheet was brilliant for him and brilliant for me”
-Frank Lampard; source Football.London
So that’s certainly some strong praise foe the 27-year-old.
It’s perhaps not surprising that rumors involving a January loan for Fikayo Tomori are starting to surface with greater regularity as well — which is increasingly needed as Tomori has been largely overlooked by Lampard (see also: Christensen).
Tomori’s situation is not great but hopefully things will improve soon. Meanwhile, it is nice to see Rüdiger deputizing effectively. Thiago Silva can’t play every game!
I’m expecting a early loan move for Fikayo Tomori as soon as the January window opens. I wouldn’t be surprised if that deal is already close to being agreed— CarefreeYouth (@CarefreeYouth) November 21, 2020
Chelsea’s squad to face Newcastle underlines that Fikayo Tomori needs a loan move in January. He turned down the chance to go to West Ham late in the last window because he didn’t believe David Moyes would play him regularly, but these have been wasted months at Cobham #CFC— Liam Twomey (@liam_twomey) November 21, 2020