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Ruben Loftus-Cheek, centre back?

Answering the call

Luton Town v Chelsea: The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Chelsea’s quality eventually shined through on Wednesday night, overcoming a spirited effort from the home side, Luton Town and a torrent of abuse from the home fans at Kenilworth Road to advance to the FA Cup quarterfinals. Amidst all the injuries and all the distractions and all the other, more weightier issues, we showed great patience and perseverance coming from behind twice in the 3-2 win against the Championship promotion hopefuls.

One of the more intriguing footballing issues on the day was the selection of Ruben Loftus-Cheek in the centre of the back-three — nominally a central defender, but with a much more creative, playmaking remit. Even Ruben himself was surprised by this latest solution from the head coach, but he proved Tuchel’s tinkering right by doing a far job as a “dual threat” centre back, and even setting up Timo Werner for the second equalizer!

“It came as a surprise to me! I found out the day before that I might have to do a job there. A lot of our defenders have got niggles and there’s some players who played 120 minutes plus penalties at the weekend.

“You have to do a job where you get put and I still tried to bring my qualities and what makes me Loftus-Cheek to the game. That’s all I could do but I really enjoyed it.

“I played centre-back when I was 12 or 13, for a season or two, and I never liked it! But tonight was a bit different, I played as a centre-back in a back four when I was younger. This time I had more licence to step out and create the attack from the start, so I enjoyed it.”

-Ruben Loftus-Cheek; Source: Chelsea FC

While we’re unlikely to see this experiment again barring another injury crisis against “weaker” opposition like Luton, it was great to see RLC make a telling contribution once again, just as he’s done several times this season as a rotational option in midfield.

Keep it up, Ruben!