Chelsea Manager Antonio Conte has been using the same starting 11 players since before Christmas and has enjoyed a great run, turning around a stuttering start to the season and switching the formation to 3-4-3.
This has been a hugely effective decision as the Blues sit on top of the Premier League table 8 points clear. However, that gap all of a sudden does not look as comfortable with Chelsea’s draw at Burnley at the weekend and Manchester City beating Bournemouth.
It is clear to see that some of that trusted starting 11 could benefit from being switched up, a couple of players have started to under-perform slightly, in particular, Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic. There have also been a few players who are performing inconsistently as well including Eden Hazard, Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses and Willian.
Don’t get me wrong, all the above-mentioned players are hugely important to this team and if they are to win the Title this season. They have all played some excellent and massive games this season and in the main part have played very well. However, I feel there is nothing wrong with rotating a little now.
Fair enough when the team were winning every game not changing a winning formula, but there have been some under par performances and dropped points recently especially against Burnley, Liverpool and Tottenham. On another day they could have easily lost to both Burnley and Liverpool had it not been for some excellent goalkeeping and defending from the Blues. The Liverpool result was a great point, but the performance was concerning as was Burnley where they only registered two shots on target!
Squad rotation even on a small level will only be positive, it will increase competition for places, step up motivation for certain players who’s places seem indispensable and will obviously act as a real incentive for players on the bench who lets face it, must be really wondering what has to happen for them to get a game when some players ahead of them are under performing.
I’m not talking about a squad overhaul but I’d definitely like to see other players get a chance. Costa has been poor but he is still guaranteed a start every match. His head seems elsewhere to me, but he’s indispensable mainly because Conte does not trust his backup option of Michy Batshuayi. But why? The 23- year old Belgium International cost Chelsea over £30 million and he averaged a goal every other game for Marseille. So why is he not getting his chance with Chelsea? For me, this is ridiculous, if he’s good enough for the bench and rated that highly to pay that much for him, then he must simply get a solid amount of game time. Nobody can show what they can do in the odd Cup game and a 3-minute Substitute appearance.
I’d also like to see Ruben Loftus-Cheek start more games. They have their own Dele Alli on their hands here but he simply does not get the chance. Alli was trusted at Tottenham and if Loftus-Cheek had the same treatment at Chelsea, he’d be alongside Alli in the England Midfield. again, why not give him a chance ahead of one of those underperforming?
And I think I speak for most supporters when I say that Cesc Fabregas must start ahead of Nemanja Matic against the teams who they need to break down. Yes start Matic against the better teams who they will need to defend hard against, but not against Burnley when 3 points would have put them in a much better spot than they are in now. Fabregas is one the most creative players in the Premier League, his intelligence and vision is needed in the centre of that Chelsea midfield now more than ever before.
Hazard plays better when he has intelligent players to link up with and at the moment far too many attacks and quick counters are breaking down with either a bad touch from Costa, poor link up play or slow switches of play from Matic. Hazard is going to be a massive deciding factor on Chelsea winning the League or not, but he must have the quality surrounding him otherwise, he’s liable to drop out of games.
I really don’t see the harm in switching up a few players now and then, bringing in some needed rotation. Chelsea need to cross that line and they need to dive into the Squad now to help them do this. At the moment this is too predictable.