The latest player to have their season reviewed is Ben Chilwell, who came through his first campaign at Chelsea with flying colours after successfully proving himself twice over...
After a delayed start due to injury, Chilwell’s first season with Chelsea began with a bang on a brilliant debut as he quickly adapted to life at Stamford Bridge to become one of our best performers during the first part of the campaign.
He needed a second period of adaptation after our change of manager and system, but showed almost weekly improvement as he got to grips with the wing-back role and his importance to both Frank Lampard and Thomas Tuchel is demonstrated by the fact that only two outfield players started more Premier League games for Chelsea than Chilwell in 2020/21.
After missing our first three games with a foot injury, Chilwell was eased into the action in Carabao Cup games against Barnsley and Tottenham. It turned out that problem was an ongoing one, which needed managing in the months ahead, but you wouldn’t have known from the left-back’s performances.
He’d been on the pitch less than 20 minutes in the first of those games when he claimed an assist with a cross from deep to Olivier Giroud. Even better was to follow on his Premier League debut against Crystal Palace, as he opened the scoring himself before setting up Kurt Zouma for the second in a 4-0 win. Four games into his Blues career, Chilwell’s one goal and three assists gave him more goal involvements than any other Premier League defender.
Chilwell became the first defender ever to score on his Premier League debut for ChelseaDream debut
It wasn’t just on the ball he was impressing, either, showing his defensive prowess by helping Chelsea to keep seven clean sheets in his first nine games, further demonstrating how quickly he had settled in west London when he was nominated for Premier League Player of the Month in November.
Chilwell’s link-up play with Mason Mount was a crucial part of many of our best team performances during the first half of the season, with an excellent example coming against Aston Villa at Christmas, when an intricate passing move began with Chilwell taking the ball from Edouard Mendy on the edge of his own box, and ended up with him setting up Giroud to score in the other area.
Chilwell initially looked like one of those who could lose out from the introduction of Tuchel as head coach in January, with Marcos Alonso returning to the team and the German preferring a back three with wing-backs, a system Chilwell had little experience of.
However, Tuchel was full of praise for the left-back’s attitude when out of the team and his desire to improve in his potential new role. More importantly, when Chilwell was given his chance he took it, with impressive performances in back-to-back league games against Manchester United and Liverpool.
‘From minute one, he was hungry to prove that he was good enough. He can handle the ball in every area – defensively, in the middle third, he can deal with it. And, of course, attacking-wise, he can cross, he can shoot, he can combine. He’s got it all.’
— Chelsea legend Ashley Cole
He also played his part in a tense finish to the season, setting up the winner at West Ham United that put us back in the top four with four games remaining, as well as playing every minute of the Champions League semi-finals and final, plus the FA Cup semi-final. The only disappointment was to have the icing on the cake snatched away from him, when his late equalising goal against his former club Leicester City in the FA Cup final was ruled out by VAR.
Ben Chilwell’s 2020/21 stats
Unused sub: 13
Minutes played: 3,545
Ben Chilwell Premier League appearances 2020/21
Ben Chilwell made 27 appearances in the Premier League for Chelsea this season, all of them from the start.
Ben Chilwell Champions League appearances 2020/21
Ben Chilwell played 10 times in the Champions League this season, including three games as a substitute.
Ben Chilwell FA Cup appearances 2020/21
Ben Chilwell played three games in the FA Cup this season, one of them from the bench.
Ben Chilwell Carabao Cup appearances 2020/21
Ben Chilwell played twice in the Carabao Cup this season, once from the start and once from the bench.
Ben Chilwell goals 2020/21
Ben Chilwell scored four times for Chelsea in 2020/21, getting three in the Premier League and one in the Champions League.