Chelsea held on against Brentford to frustrate the home crowd and win 1-0 on Saturday, but two youngsters starred in defence and proved they could solve a looming issue at the back for Thomas Tuchel
Chelsea flexed their defensive solidity again on Saturday night, as they held on to beat Premier League new boys Brentford 1-0 despite being dominated during the second half.
Ben Chilwell’s strike just before half time ended up being the winning goal for Thomas Tuchel’s side, but goalkeeper Eduoard Mendy had one of the performances of his life, behind a resilient defence that frustrated the hosts.
Tuchel was without Antonio Rudiger and Thiago Silva for the trip to the Brentford Community Stadium, which is something that the Chelsea boss may have to get used to from the start of next season if contract talks don’t progress.
However, Chelsea’s youthful back line made a statement on Saturday, and proved to Tuchel that he may not have as much of an issue as initially feared, if he puts his faith in The Blues up and coming talent.
During their 1-0 win over Brentford, Tuchel fielded three centre-backs with an average age of 23, as Malang Sarr and Trevoh Chalobah partnered the more experienced Andres Christiensen.
The youngsters were faultless throughout the 90 minutes and, along with the world class Mendy, they helped Chelsea back to the top of the Premier League, breaking an old English record in the process.
Tuchel’s Chelsea became the first ever side within England’s top four divisions to win seven straight London derbies away from home, and they did so by only conceding one goal.
Chelsea’s usual starters Rudiger and Silva have been world class this season, but both could leave Stamford Bridge at the end of the season as they are both in the final year of their contract.
This was to be expected for Silva, as the 37-year-old veteran nears retirement, but Rudiger has stepped up to a new level under Tuchel and is arguably Chelsea’s best centre-back when fully fit.
Rudiger is yet to agree a new deal and it leaves Chelsea in a predicament, as the German has the opportunity to speak to new clubs about signing a pre-contract agreement from as soon as January, and there is heavy interest for the 28-year-old.
With Kurt Zouma being sold in the summer with no replacement as a deal for Jules Kounde fell through, this could leave Chelsea short of three first team centre-backs, but Tuchel should put his faith in Sarr and Chalobah to solve the problem, and prioritise youth.
The young pair are both 22-years-old, and already have displayed high-level performances, but could have an incredible future at Chelsea with such a long period of time to learn under Tuchel.
Chelsea have been known for signing new stars over prioritising youth, but The Blues should look to emulate similar decisions that have seen the likes of Reece James and Mason Mount become first team stars.
With Rudiger’s return date currently unknown, it opens up a vacancy that could prove to be the perfect opportunity for Sarr and Chalobah to prove their worth, and establish themselves in Tuchel’s side.