English Premier League
Sunday 19 September
As a point of departure, Saul Niguez is an incredibly talented player. I will concede that he struggled on debut against Aston Villa – yet another indication of the level and competitiveness evident in the English league – but his quality is still undeniable.
The fact that football fans on social media lamented at his performance and proclaimed that their respective clubs dodged a bullet is somewhat premature if you ask me. What I did enjoy though was a tweet by one fan suggesting that Saul was in desperate need of a ‘road to Damascus’ moment…
Anyway, the importance and value in a solid holding defensive midfielder has been well documented in the modern game. N’Golo Kante has long been the posterchild of such a suggestion, but Thomas Tuchel is blessed with options at Chelsea. Kante, Saul, Jorginho and Kovacic would all stake steady claims for the position in probably most (if not all) clubs in the league.
The value in the traditional ‘holding 6’ not only lies in the screening of your defence to break-up play in the centre of the park, but also having a player who can singlehandedly transition your side from defence to attack. This also increases the pace, effect and ability to build-up play or immediately outlet wide and look to go forward. Yes, I am aware this is an oversimplification of the role and responsibility – but you get the point.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Chelsea Football Club is a complete and dangerous team under Thomas Tuchel. They came away from their fixture with Aston Villa as 3-0 winners and, you wouldn’t be completely exaggerating had you felt it was hard fought. However, Villa attempted 18 shots at Stamford Bridge – only Liverpool have had more attempts at the Bridge in a league game – and yet still their resolute defence, silky transitions and robust attacking talent seemed largely undeterred.
A lot has been said about the importance of keeping players like Lukaku fit, and I couldn’t agree more! Well, why would you when your striker has a 100% shot to goal conversion rate in the box?
Prediction: Chelsea Win (8/10)
Chelsea at almost even money is incredible value – value that nobody deserves to miss out on! Make sure to tell everyone and anyone that you can – this simply must be part of your multiple and weekend wager. Get the provident fund ready because the confidence is being given early!
This Chelsea side is truly a well-oiled machine, especially in the so-called big games. I truly cannot see where Nuno’s Spurs could hurt this side (even if they look to be nice and neatly compact through the middle as was the case against City). I’m all in on Chelsea here!