The next Chelsea player to feature in our end of season analysis is Cobham graduate Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who enjoyed arguably his most successful season in a Blues shirt in recent years...
All in all, it was a decent campaign for the Cobham graduate who matched his appearances from his 2018/19 season at Chelsea.
His eight Champions League appearances was a feat only bettered by four Blues players, despite six of these coming from the bench. Tuchel has often challenged Ruben to push himself harder to enable him to hit even greater heights, and it feels as though his 2021/22 term was a progressive one that stands him in good stead heading into 2022/23.
Epitomising his game with his Malmo showing
Ruben threw back the years when he started only his second ever Champions League match, with his first in the competition occurring more than six years before, when he started in our trip to Malmo in November.
He was dominant and powerful in the 1-0 win, where he played in central midfield alongside Jorginho. He created two great chances, and also produced a whole load of other excellent touches in a midfield showing which saw manager Thomas Tuchel challenge him to unleash his potential.
His first and only goal of the season
He left it late, but Ruben eventually found the net in the 21/22 season in our FA Cup semi-final win over Crystal Palace in April. Chances were at a premium until substitute Loftus-Cheek broke the Wembley deadlock 65 minutes into the match.
The deflected half-volley was Ruben’s first goal for Chelsea since May 2019, which came almost three years before in the Europa League semi-finals.
The goal was significant for Chelsea, too, with the strike being scored by our 20th different goalscorer of the season. After Ross Barkley netted against Watford on the final day, we hit a new club record of different goalscorers in a single season, with 21. The previous record was set at 20, from the 2015/16 season.
Tuchel’s trial and error pays off
Tuchel opted to deploy Ruben in the central centre-back role in our FA Cup fifth round tie with Luton Town. The role in Tuchel’s system, so often expertly played deployed by veteran Thiago Silva, allows the central defender to come out with the ball when needed, but also sit the deepest and mop up possession.
The Blues struggled in the early proceedings at Kenilworth Road but as the game wore on the hosts dropped deeper and deeper as we searched for an equaliser and also the eventual winner, with Loftus-Cheek dictating play from deep.
He then produced an exquisite through ball for Timo Werner’s equaliser, with the German plucking the ball out of the air, before slotting home. Ruben was given the Emirates FA Cup Man of the Match award by broadcasters BBC.
Ruben shows versatility at right wing-back
Ruben Loftus-Cheek came on for skipper Cesar Azpilicueta at half-time in our win at Norwich City back in March, filling in directly at right wing-back, making it another position to add to his central defensive one he operated at Luton a few weeks prior.
The 26-year-old was asked to play right wing-back again in our 6-0 April win over Southampton, and again looked assured playing in another new position.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek 2021/22 Chelsea stats
Appearances: 40Substituted: 5Goals: 1Assists: 6 Minutes played: 2384
Ruben Loftus-Cheek Premier League appearances 2021/22
Ruben Loftus-Cheek played 24 games in the Premier League for Chelsea this season, coming off the bench in 11 of them.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek Champions League appearances 2021/22
Ruben Loftus-Cheek made eight appearances in the Champions League this season, six of these coming from the bench.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek FA Cup appearances 2021/22
Ruben Loftus-Cheek played five games in the FA Cup this season, two of which came from the start.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek Carabao Cup appearances 2021/22
Ruben Loftus-Cheek played three times in the Carabao Cup this season, with just one of these coming from the start.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek Super Cup and Club World Cup appearances 2021/22
Ruben Loftus-Cheek did not compete at the Club World Cup. He was on the bench in the Super Cup final.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek goals 2021/22
Ruben Loftus-Cheek scored one goal for Chelsea in 2021/22, in the FA Cup.