After Chelsea scraped a late 2-1 comeback win against Cardiff City on Sunday, the scorer of the winning goal may just have turned his manager’s head once and for all. Having featured this season mainly from the bench, Ruben Loftus-Cheek has once again staked a huge claim to start in Chelsea’s midfield. Surely Maurizio Sarri cannot ignore the Englishman any longer.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek‘s Impact vs Cardiff
As Chelsea laboured in Wales, it seemed we were seeing another hapless, lifeless away performance until Sarri decided to bring on Eden Hazard and Loftus-Cheek. The midfield three of Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic and Ross Barkley had unsurprisingly created nothing in another typical unimaginative performance.
As has been mentioned time after time, the Chelsea midfield of this season has barely produced anything in terms of output and goals. Jorginho is too deep, Kovacic hasn’t scored for over a year and a half and Barkley is far too inconsistent and probably too deep to get into real goal scoring territory. Step forward Loftus-Cheek.
After coming on, he showed an urgency and a will to break forward. Carrying the ball, moving it quickly whilst not just sticking to one position. Making it more difficult to mark and defend as he carried the ball from central positions to out wide. Moving the ball quicker and creating space are two things Chelsea sorely need to improve on. His presence seemed to help start that process.
Why He Has to Start
There are many reasons why he should start. Let’s start with his goal against Cardiff. As Chelsea chased a winner, they found it thanks to a Loftus-Cheek header at the back post. A superbly guided header which found the bottom corner.
For starters, he gives Chelsea a much-needed height boost. Typically, Chelsea’s teams have always had height in abundance. But as there are more technically gifted players in the team, they tend to be smaller in stature. The lack of height means they are less likely to score from set pieces. In addition, he adds an extra goal threat that is sorely needed as Chelsea’s midfield has barely contributed this season. Having an extra man in the box makes it harder for opposition teams, its as simple as that.
His ability to carry the ball, his stature and pace can cause real problems for anyone. It’s an unpredictable factor that is so tough to deal with and Chelsea’s style of play this season has been anything but unpredictable. They could do with someone like Ruben starting in the team. Adding that extra goal threat and power could be so vital in the run through to the end of the season.
Will he Start?
What is the likelihood of him starting? Sarri has been very stubborn in his Chelsea career so far. Most of his performances have come outside the Premier League. Most notably with him netting a hat trick in the Europa League group game against BATE Borisov. Every time he begins to pick up form, he either seems to get injured or displaced by a pragmatic, defensive midfield.
If Chelsea have any chance of Europa League glory and a top-four finish, he has to start every game possible. Kovacic and Barkley cannot be starting over him. They don’t offer anything to the team.
Furthermore, they’ve had all season to prove themselves and they haven’t been able to impress. Loftus-Cheek performs every time he gets onto the pitch. He needs a run of games in the side and it will not only benefit his development but give Chelsea a much better chance of ending the season on a high.
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