Fans criticized boss Thomas Tuchel’s team selection against Zenit as a clearly weakened Chelsea side suffered heavily in Russia, losing their Champions League group stage top spot as a result.
Notably, he played Reece James with Ross Barkley in a midfield pivot and Saul Niguez played as the left wing-back. The coach told Chelseafc.com of his decisions: “I expect N’Golo, Mateo, Jorgi, and Ruben to start in midfield but they are all out so we had to get creative with Reecey.
“The target is to put him on the wing but we need players in midfield.”
The gaffer had also explained why he wanted to play Saul as a wing-back earlier: “I think he could play in a wing-back role for us.
“He’s very strong in arriving in the box, finishing and timing, and arriving on the second ball. He could be a good fit. In the next games, we may have to try it as Chilly is out long-term. We can’t let Marcos take all the load.”
Well, both the experiments clearly failed as neither Reece nor Saul looked up to the task. Hopefully, they can do better in the next game.