Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea: Blues player ratings
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Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia is reportedly closing in on the signing of Jules Kounde, with reports from Spain claiming it is only ‘a matter of time’ before the Sevilla defender signs. Regarded as one of the best young centre-backs in Europe, Kounde would join an imposing defence who have become incredibly hard to beat under Thomas Tuchel.
Chelsea put on a defensive masterclass in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool, when they held out against their Premier League title rivals despite being reduced to 10 men after Reece James was sent off in the first half.
The signing of Kounde appears to have moved a step closer after Kurt Zouma joined West Ham, and he will only strengthen the Blues’ rearguard – providing a platform from which attacking talents such as Romelu Lukaku, Kai Havertz and Mason Mount will be able to strike fear into their rivals. Here, Express Sport takes a look at the frightening XI Tuchel will be able to field.
Edouard Mendy has continued where he left off last season, having solved the Blues’ goalkeeping issues since his arrival from Rennes last summer. Having kept clean sheets in opening wins over Crystal Palace and Arsenal, Mendy exactly why Chelsea signed him with crucial saves from Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho at Anfield on Saturday.
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Defence: Kounde, Christensen, Rudiger
Kounde will have to earn his place in a back three which has become imperious since Tuchel took charge.
The 22-year-old could line up against Andreas Christensen, whose astute positioning helped frustrate Liverpool on Saturday, and Antonio Rudiger, who has enjoyed a resurgence under Tuchel after it seemed his Chelsea career was over this time last year.
This would be extremely harsh on Cesar Azpilicueta, who continues to prove his worth after nine years at the club, and put in a commanding performance at Anfield having also impressed at right wing-back of late.
Tuchel can also call on the hugely experienced Thiago Silva, who came on to shore up the defence after James’ dismissal on Saturday, and promising youngster Trevor Chalobah – giving the manager plenty of quality options.
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Midfield: James, Kante, Jorginho, Alonso
James’ handball was a blow to Chelsea on Saturday, but he is an excellent wing-back option for Tuchel, combining defensive nous, attacking impetus and dangerous deliveries into the box.
In the middle Chelsea can pair the Premier League’s best defensive midfielder N’Golo Kante with UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Jorginho, with Mateo Kovacic as a decent back-up.
And on the opposite flank to James, Tuchel can choose from Ben Chilwell and Marcos Alonso – with the latter another player who has revived his Blues career under the current manager, having been given the nod for all three Premier League matches so far this season.
Attack: Mount, Havertz, Lukaku
Lukaku showed just why Chelsea paid £97m to land him from Inter Milan when he destroyed Arsenal’s backline in last weekend’s 2-0 victory.
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Although the centre-forward was kept quiet by Liverpool on Saturday, his power, pace, finishing and hold-up play makes him perfect to lead Chelsea’s line.
With Lukaku supported by two No10s in Mason Mount and Saturday’s goalscorer Kai Havertz, the Blues will have too much in attack for most defences to handle.
And that’s with the likes of Timo Werner, Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi available from the bench.
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