Lampard faces defensive quandary
Kurt Zouma has been one of Frank Lampard’s most trusted players this season and prior to the game at Craven Cottage, he had played the most minutes of any Chelsea player.
Yet when the Blues side was confirmed, the Frenchman was only among the substitutes. Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger were the centre-back pairing.
“Nothing bad on Kurt but it just felt like a change was needed,” Lampard told Sky Sports rather matter-of-factly before the contest.
Zouma’s absence resulted in Silva moving across to the right side of central defence with Rudiger occupying the role normally filled by the Brazilian. It was a big decision from Lampard and one that largely paid off.
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Silva adapted seamlessly to the switch and unflustered throughout. Rudiger, meanwhile, wasn’t flawless with the ball but largely defended well, albeit against a side with ten men for the entire second half.
And that presents a selection dilemma for Lampard on Tuesday night against Leicester City.
Jamie Vardy will, fitness permitting, be the Foxes’ biggest threat at the King Power Stadium and the Chelsea head coach must decide whether to stick with Silva and Rudiger after they helped the Blues keep a clean sheet or reintroduce Zouma, by far the quickest of the three, to counter the threat of the 34-year-old striker.
We need to talk about Cesar
Let’s get one thing clear: Cesar Azpilicueta is one of Chelsea’s greatest defenders.
Right-back, left-back, centre-back, the Spaniard has played the lot at Stamford Bridge and has done so at a level few could have predicted when he arrived for just £7 million from Marseille in the summer of 2012.
Yet time waits for no player and Azpilicueta has struggled on occasion this season and questions are being asked about the 31-year-old, particularly when it comes to his waning ability against pace.