Chelsea v Burnley: Match in Pictures
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Three months into the 2021/22 season, Chelsea are close to saying they’ve enjoyed as good an opening as they would’ve dreamed. Express Sport delves into the Blues’ start, looking at Thomas Tuchel’s best player, biggest disappointment, potential January transfer targets and an overall grade.
Biggest star so far
The wing-backs have shone again in Tuchel’s three-at-the-back system, with Ben Chilwell and Marcos Alonso impressing on the left.
But Reece James has solidified himself as one of Europe’s best young wide defenders this season.
The 21-year-old has looked phenomenal at both ends of the pitch, marauding down the right flank to support Chelsea’s centre-halves and forwards.
He is the joint-top goalscorer in Tuchel’s squad with four goals in all competitions and has as many assists, only bettered by Mateo Kovacic’s five.
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Most disappointing player so far
It’s difficult to pinpoint a disappointing player in a team that is top of their domestic league and has one foot in the Champions League knockout stages.
But Chelsea’s deadline day decision to sign Saul Niguez on loan is proving to be a questionable one.
Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic have featured most regularly in Tuchel’s midfield, with N’Golo Kante challenging for a starting berth.
But Saul is struggling to cement a spot in the German boss’ plans, only making three starts in all competitions since arriving in England.
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January transfer targets
In a similar vein to the last section, Tuchel won’t exactly be looking at his squad’s performance and say ‘I need to improve you as soon as possible’.
However, Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen’s contracts are growing worryingly close to expiry.
So it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Chelsea re-enter talks for Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde in January.
While Chelsea’s defence has been incredible so far this term, Tuchel will consider the future, and the 22-year-old has the potential to become one of Europe’s best in his craft.
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Overall grade: A
It’d be incredibly harsh to give Chelsea anything less than an A for the start of their season.
After winning the Champions League in May, Tuchel has guided his side to the top of the Premier League after 11 games, leading Manchester City by three points.
The Blues are also into the Carabao Cup quarter-finals, where a trip to Brentford awaits.
Chelsea would have been A+-worthy had they avoided defeat at Juventus to surrender top spot in their Champions League group and not slipped up at home to Man City and Burnley in the league.
But they’re in an excellent position to build on after the final international break of 2021, with the crucial winter period up ahead.
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