Antonio Rüdiger returned to the starting lineup against FK Krasnodar. This came after Lampard hinted during his press conference earlier this week that he was in contention to make his first appearance of the season.
“I’ve had discussions. Sometimes players are out of the squad but he is very much in contention”Frank Lampard
The Chelsea Outcast
The defenders time at Stamford Bridge looked to be coming to an end over the summer following the arrival of Thiago Silva, and the rumoured fall out with Lampard over game time. He was even given permission to leave the club with PSG and Spurs interested in his services.
A move never materialised and the defender has been stuck behind the likes of Christensen, Silva, Zouma and Tomori so far this term. Having been left out of the squad for six out of the Blues’ seven games this season, a transfer in January was looking like a ‘dead cert’.
Lampard and Rüdiger have a ‘positive relationship’
Before Brazilian star Thiago Silva joined the club, Antonio Rüdiger was without a doubt the clubs best central defender. With his vocal leadership qualities and combative style of defending the German international often set the tone for a young Chelsea side.
So what changed?
Lampard definitely questioned whether he could count on the defender this year, after a poor run of form towards the back end of last season. This maybe goes some way to explaining why we saw the fall out between player and coach, as playing time could not be guaranteed with Thiago coming through the door.
However, as the season has gone on Chelsea have looked so vulnerable at the back. Lampard has almost been forced to build bridges with Antonio and bring him back into the fold, knowing he has a good defender at his disposal if he can recapture the form from early last season. All defenders go through periods where they make mistakes or defend badly buts it’s how you bounce back that matters. Antonio Rüdiger definitely seems up for the challenge.
“I’ve always had a positive relationship with him”.
“I was very pleased with Rüdiger and Zouma. No doubts about putting Toni in”.
“I was very pleased with his concentration levels to have a real desire to keep his clean sheet’.Frank Lampard
On Rüdiger’s Instagram post, he knows it’s all about clean sheets for Lampard and the team right now. Defences win trophies!
Thiago Silva’s Importance
Thiago Silva clearly needs to be managed carefully this season and can’t play every game, which is understandable. This was why he was left at home for the game against FK Krasnodar as Chelsea look to manage his fitness for the bigger games.
This therefore means that Zouma and Rüdiger could be the alternative ‘go to’ partnership. Only when Thiago is being rested though. Lampard knows if Chelsea are to challenge this year then he needs to build some solid centre back partnerships and keep more clean sheets especially at the Bridge.
Chelsea’s best defence
I would have James/Azpilicueta at RB, Chilwell at LB, Rudiger and Zouma at CB. This would definitely be my favoured back four moving forward. With the ability to bring Thiago Silva into the fold for tough CL fixtures. Or difficult Premier League opponents where his experience is vital.
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