Antonio Rudiger has had to wait for his first appearance of the season at Chelsea.
The German defender was the biggest casualty of Thiago Silva’s arrival, falling out of the match-day squad on several occasions during the opening weeks of the campaign, with speculation over his Chelsea future amid links with Tottenham and other clubs.
But Rudiger stayed with Chelsea and is now hoping to prove himself worthy of a place in Lampard’s long-term plans again.
At 36 years old and with the Blues facing a packed fixture list, Silva can’t play every game. This is something Frank Lampard understands, which is why the Brazilian centre-back was left at home while his team-mates made the long trip to take on Krasnodar.
“Thiago’s fit, taking him out of the trip to Russia was more of a maintenance issue for him,” he said on Thursday.
In Silva’s place, Rudiger was handed his first appearance of the season. The hope would have been that he could prove himself to be a valuable squad option for Chelsea this season. For the most part, that is precisely what he did.
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Alongside Kurt Zouma, who has appeared in every match bar one this term, Rudiger was largely comfortable. Chelsea conceded several chances early in the second half, but Rudiger was not individually culpable. The overall pressure the Blues came under was predominantly due to their inability to keep possession in the midfield.
Statistically, Rudiger did what he had to do. Per FBREF, he won one tackle to help Chelsea recover possession afterwards, made three pressures, his team winning the ball back after two of them, made two blocks and one clearance.
In possession, Rudiger was solid but not spectacular. He completed 95.8% of his passes, which is an encouraging number, but they travelled a total progressive distance of 411 yards.
In contrast, Zouma’s passes totalled a progressive…