Columnist

Pat Nevin asks how alternative Chelsea line-up would perform in Premier League and picks potential prized asset

Our regular columnist and former player Pat Nevin has no shortage of thoughts to write about this week, as he hands out some 9/10 ratings, makes a big prediction about the future and just about keeps a lid on his enthusiasm…

I am trying not to get carried away with the display against Burnley, but honestly it is very, very hard indeed. I watched Frank Lampard after the game also trying his best to control his excitement but he was being sorely tested after what he had witnessed.

A manager wants to congratulate his players when they do well, but there is always that difficult balance of keeping them on an even keel and not letting them get carried away by the form, the results and the style. With some players that can lead them to take the proverbial foot off the gas. But even so, I can’t help but say I thought they were utterly magnificent to a man against Sean Dyche’s side.

So there you go. I failed to keep the excitement in, but honestly I was utterly blown away by that 90 minutes. Well maybe not the entire 90, there was a stumble or two at the end, but even that was caused by the team continuing to play quick, exciting and attractive attacking football.

If you read this column regularly you will know I try to keep things in perspective. I tried to underline how our expectations should be tempered in Frank’s first season. How the youngsters must be given time. How scoring five on the road at Wolves and three at Norwich etc. should be considered against leaking a few goals too. So keeping a lid on things is my default position. However, I can’t even try to pretend that the Turf Moor demolition job was anything other than fantastic and quite beautiful in terms of style too.
 

Of course Christian Pulisic got the headlines and more about him in a moment, but like Frank I thought Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic were off the scale. Both had minimum 9/10 games for me, utterly dominating possession and controlling the entire game. I spent a lot of time last season trying to explain to the British public how good Jorginho is. Now it looks as though I am finally in the mainstream of thinking; everyone finally loves what he is doing for Chelsea.

Talking about players finally coming into the mainstream of public consciousness, I reckon Christian Pulisic didn’t do a bad job in that respect at the weekend. Those of us with a love of Chelsea had a fair idea this was coming. Last week on this page I wrote the following:
 

‘Christian Pulisic is now showing the signs of the player he will become for Chelsea…the skill, vision and pace attributes of his game are already in place. It seems obvious now though that it all just has to be fitted together within the structure of the team. After his last two appearances, many Chelsea fans will agree it doesn’t seem to be too far off.’

photo of Pat Nevin Pat Nevin

Not far off, well a few days off anyway. He is another player Chelsea fans can get rightly excited about. In fact I will not be surprised if over time he becomes the prized asset in the side, he really does have that much ability. Fortunately he seems to be the sort of guy who just wants to do it for the team.

It doesn’t look or sound like an ego trip for him and I suspect that will go down extremely well with Frank Lampard. In a world where loud self-promotion and self-aggrandising is everywhere, isn’t it good to see that a nice quiet guy can get along just fine as well.

It would be great to see him play against Manchester United in the Carabao Cup but there are a whole bunch of players who need games and Frank will think long and hard about this one. It is not easy for Frank to decide and gone are the days when you said, ‘It’s only the Carabao Cup, we should just play the kids’. These days you are more likely to say, ‘It is the Carabao Cup, let’s rest the kids and give some of the more established players a chance’.

The likes of Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi would definitely love some game time and anyone who we can get back from injury would also be desperate for a go. The likes of N’Golo Kante, Emerson, Andreas Christensen, Toni Rudiger, Ross Barkley, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Pedro all must be watching on and thinking they would love to be playing every week. The only way you can do that is to let the manager see you doing well against the likes of a Manchester United.

How about adding Callum Hudson Odoi and Reece James to the list that need a few 90-minute outings and suddenly you begin to see how stiff the competition for places is right now. So, try this for a thought, how would the team below fare if they were fit and well and sent out against most teams in the Premier League?


Caballero

James              Rudiger     Christensen     Emerson

Kante        Barkley

Pedro                     Loftus-Cheek        Hudson-Odoi

Batshuayi or Giroud

 

In all seriousness, if Frank Lampard put that team out for any game, I would be excited by it and would expect them to very probably win. Where would that team finish in the Premier League for example? I totally honesty think they would challenge for top six minimum and not one of them is starting for the team just now!

It is a huge pity all those lads aren’t fit, but when they are it should give us a great chance in any of the cup competitions over the next few seasons. In the midst of it all, there are more youngsters coming through as well. Put young Billy Gilmour somewhere in the above side and it probably doesn’t weaken it at all. These truly are exciting times and not just because of the current first 11.

I started this by saying that I try not to get carried away, I am pretty sure I have failed this week for a change, but for good reason!


Read: Kovacic most passes, touches, tackles and dribbles

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