The staggered nature of Chelsea’s preseason, with different sets of players returning from summer holidays at different times, has opened up opportunities for certain players in certain positions, be they players on the fringes of the first-team or returning veterans of the Loan Army, or even a few youngsters.
Trevoh Chalobah has been one of those stepping up and taking advantage, with the 22-year-old featuring at the heart of Tuchel’s back-three all preseason and also showing off his versatility by playing a bit of right-center back and even right back last night. But all the first-team players are now back, which means it’s decision-time for Chalobah and Chelsea once again. As ever, it’s not an easy one, and one that Tuchel isn’t quite ready to make, at least not publicly.
“We know him from Lorient and Chalo has done very well in pre-season. We wanted to continue in the back three, so there was space in the back until Zouma and Toni arrived. Then there was one space left but then Andreas Christensen, Reece and Azpi are back then there is a huge competition for him.
“He’s done very well in both games and within his potential and limits that was nice to see. He played a good match, I agree.”
There’s good and bad in that assessment. The acknowledgement of “huge” competition is not too promising, but Tuchel’s big on getting to personally know his players and in that sense, Chalobah’s certainly had more changes than most who were not part of the first-team last season.
I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see. Chalobah does have two more years left on his contract, but previous reports made it sound like he was pretty much done with the Loan Army after three successful stints.
Meanwhile, another big decision that awaits us is regarding Tino Anjorin, who’s been rather unlucky this summer, having to self-isolate after a positive COVID test and even suffering a few symptoms as well. He looked bright and lively in his half-hour cameo last night, which were his first minutes all summer, but the delayed start to his preseason is unlikely to help his prospects of first-team football this season, as small as they might have been to begin with.
“When the season ended we agreed he stays for pre-season and he’d get the minutes he deserves. Unfortunately, before the first friendly, Tino was the guy to test positive for Covid and really suffered for 10-12 days. You could see today that it was the first time he was back on the pitch and it was a lot for him to start with 30 minutes.
“So he was unlucky with the situation, he had no responsibility for it. So, honestly, I can’t really judge him and what I saw today in five, ten minutes was very promising again. He is strong, confident, creative, assists and scores a lot of goals in training for us.
“I just wished we had the possibility to see him against Peterborough, Bournemouth and Arsenal so he could really make a statement. Now the season more or less starts again. So he has suffered without having any responsibility for it.
“The situation is maybe a bit unchanged for him. The most important thing is for him to get fit, he had some trouble to adapt to the intensity. I think he struggles a little from his illness, so we have to be very careful about him.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
There’s certainly no need to rush Anjorin at 19, and with a long-term contract, but he looks ready for a challenge and hopefully we can find the right one for him for the season ahead.