With ten matches during the final eight Gameweeks, it’s probably worth investing in a Chelsea defender. Here are the lead candidates.
Competing in the Club World Cup and EFL Cup final led to several Chelsea postponements in 2022. Therefore they have two games that still need slotting into the schedule, guaranteeing a pair of Double Gameweeks.
Should Thomas Tuchel’s side reach the FA Cup final, their Gameweek 37 trip to Man United will be moved – although likely within the same week.
It’s a strong run of games that ranks highly on the Fantasy Football Scout Season Ticker, which will go higher once Leicester (H) and Leeds (a) are added as only four sides still need multiple rearrangements.
Following Saturday’s look at the best Chelsea midfield options, let’s check out their defence.
Defence so far
Chelsea’s 13 clean sheets have only been surpassed by Liverpool and Man City but they seem to come in streaks. Eight were kept in their first 12 matches, followed by a spell of just one shut-out from 11. Things have stabilised again now, with four clean sheets from their most recent five outings.
In fact, the Blues have conceded less goals and have a lower expected goals conceded (xGC) tally than Liverpool. Of their remaining ten opponents, four clean sheets were kept in this season’s reverse meetings.
It seems like a good time to invest in their defenders, if it hasn’t already been done. But which one?
Going forward, if it wasn’t for Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson, Chelsea would be far ahead of everyone in terms of goals and assists from defence.
A whopping 17 goals have come from their back line, with five from Reece James (£6.2m) despite only playing 47% of their league minutes. Furthermore, the right-back has provided six assissts.
His five double-digit hauls include 21 points at Newcastle and 18 against both Burnley and Arsenal. So it’ll be interesting to see Thomas Tuchel give an update on James’ recent muscle injury.
Managers will be hoping he isn’t a rotation victim, with Champions League quarter-finals happening between Gameweeks 31, 32 and 33. Amidst the chopping and changing that has affected James, Marcos Alonso (£5.5m) and Cesar Azpilicueta (£5.6m), centre back Antonio Rudiger (£6.1m) was thought to be immune from all that.
The German’s Gameweek 8 back injury was the only time he missed minutes all season. Until he was benched against Norwich two weeks ago. That new doubt, combined with a James return, could point managers towards the latter. However, Rudiger has five attacking returns of his own, with cheaper option Thiago Silva (£5.7m) netting three times and starting the vast majority of times.
Another factor to consider is contract expiries. Whilst Thiago Silva is here next season, Rudiger, Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen (£4.6m) are all set to leave in the summer. Perhaps Tuchel eventually looks to play Trevoh Chalobah (£4.7m) or Malang Sarr (£4.9m) more often in preparation for the future.
To summarise, the best Chelsea defender is probably a fit and healthy Reece James playing high up the pitch. This is the business end of the season, where trophies are won, so the minutes of both he and Antonio Rudiger look most reliable.