Ruben Loftus-Cheek

Liverpool and Manchester City’s 2-2 draw in the Premier League’s blockbuster clash last weekend lived up to its expectations as a pulsating encounter was played out at Anfield, however, it means Chelsea remain top of the league table going into the October International Break after seven games. 

After what was perceived as a rough week, the blues go on with their heads held high.

After consecutive 1-0 losses for the European Champions, Thomas Tuchel made five changes for a must-win home test against Southampton. The team resembled that which ended the Champions League game away at Juventus as Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ben Chilwell, Timo Werner, Trevoh Chalobah, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek were all trusted to bring fresh impetus. 

Just as some had done when coming off the bench in Italy, all the changes impacted the improved performance in a much-needed 3-1 win. 

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Hudson-Odoi was at his lively best as was expected in his preferred inside-forward position, Werner got his due goal after seeing a 16th goal for Chelsea ruled out by VAR, Chilwell put some gloss on the scoreline with a late third, while Chalobah had scored the opener off an assist from Loftus-Cheek in the first half.

Pertinently, the midfielder was making his first Premier League start for the club in 383 days and seems to have grabbed his chance during a spate of injuries and rotation.

Loftus-Cheek has now featured in four of Chelsea’s five previous games and has become a revelation as a dynamic ball-carrying midfielder, with his unique physical strength and long strides making for pleasurable viewing for the crowd.

Par for the course, the Englishman has got ahead of loan-signing Saul Niguez in the midfield pecking order where there is intense competition for two or three starting spots. But his recent form will not surprise those who closely monitored RLC before his unfortunate Achilles rupture in 2019.

Adding incredible drive and forward thrust to the Chelsea midfield, the 25-year-old assisted fellow academy graduate Chlobah’s important opening goal with a flick-on from a corner. 

Whenever the midfielder got on the ball, he sought to drive forward with the ball at his feet. It was the perfect dynamism after two goalless performances lacking attacking impetus. 

Ruben Loftus-Cheek

According to WhoScored, Loftus-Cheek completed the most dribbles with four and registered two tackles while his two key passes were only bettered by Chilwell. He had made a huge statement after 83 minutes of action and must be lauded for his perseverance, dedication, and belief in his talent to thrive at Chelsea.

Having impressed in pre-season friendlies, an unfortunately timed positive coronavirus test cost him the start of the Premier League season. However, after a show of trust with the dying seconds of the tight Champions League opener at home to Zenit St. Petersburg, the England international finally got the chance to show his readiness with a 90-minute runout in the Carabao Cup against Aston Villa. 

Loftus-Cheek was perhaps the only positive in cameos during Chelsea’s consecutive losses to Manchester City and Juventus.

“We decided to put Ruben because we were aware of their high pressing in midfield but we still wanted to go through midfield,” Tuchel explained of his selection against Southampton. “Ruben and Kova [Mateo Kovacic] can not only pass but drive with the ball to escape the press. That is the reason we picked them.”

And how well has he delivered on the job.

After officially getting his individual season up and running with a Premier League assist, RLC will continue to give Tuchel reasons to play him. And with his unique qualities given more opportunities, the silky midfielder could well become a key player in this long season for the European Champions. 

Hear ye, the RLC remontada is on. 

Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin
October 4, 2021
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Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

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