Most football fans in the world have termed Chelsea as favourites to land the Premier League title this season.
And while a fantastic team producing fantastic performances every week is the main reason for the favourites tag, a strong bench is one of the most important factors that contributes to a title-winning surge. Chelsea certainly have the luxury of possessing one of the best reserve benches in the world at present.
Most of the players in the regular Chelsea eleven are allegedly the best in their respective positions. Hazard on the left wing, is probably the best winger in the world after Cristiano Ronaldo. Striker Diego Costa is simply amazing and looks to have been built for the Premier League.
The defence looks impregnable, while the midfield pair of Fabregas and Matic have been pretty much running the show. The one position, which one might argue about, is the right wing. With Willian, Andre Schurrle and Mohamed Salah vying for the same spot, let us analyse whose claim is the strongest.
After a fine world cup campaign, where Schurrle scored 3 goals, all after coming off the substitutes’ bench, Schurrle was expected to showcase his enormous talents in front of the English crowd. A fantastic team effort finished off by Schurrle on the opening day against Burnley was regarded as the first of many to arrive. But Schurrle has so far been unable to build on it. With just one more goal (against Manchester City) and no assists in the next 440 minutes of football from 12 appearances, Schurrle has severely damaged his chances of retaining a spot in Mourinho’s starting eleven.
He has been unable to trouble the opposition defence, whenever he has played. At a below average 0.3 dribbles per match, Schurrle has not been able to dazzle. Recent illnesses and injury, while on international duty, has not helped his cause either. By all means, he looked better for Chelsea last season than he his looking at the moment. For the time being, all Schurrle can hope for, is a quick recovery from his illness and a quick return to form, if he is to contribute to the team. With a talent like his, and some more game-time, Schurrle may not be far from a return to the starting line-up.
This season, Salah has not been able to make his way into the first team. His solitary start came in the Capital One Cup against Shrewsbury Town, a match in which he was heavily criticised by Mourinho for not doing enough to cause him “selection problems” for the next match. With only 12 minutes of Premier League action, Salah himself has been frustrated. With nothing other than a lone assist for Didier Drogba against Shrewsbury Town, Salah has been simply ineffective whenever he has been given a chance.
While one may argue that Salah has not been given enough time on the pitch to prove his credentials, it has to be understood that at a club like Chelsea, where the team is filled with world class players, the training sessions and the limited game-time is where one has ought to impress. A transfer away from Stamford Bridge, specially with the Milan clubs showing interest, is what Salah may have to undergo if he has to return to regular first team football, because among the three players, he looks the most unlikey candidate for the starting spot on the right flank.
Among the 3 players, for a berth on the right flank, Willian has impressed the most. With 18 appearances this season, Willian has notched up a total of 999 minutes. Although he has scored only 2 goals, and assisted 2, it is his energy and immense work rate that has seen him cement a spot on the right flank. With as many as 2 dribbles per match, he has been responsible for creating a lot of chances. His tracking back part of the game has been impressive as ever.
Moreover, he looks a very fit player, despite all his highly energetic displays week in week out. His presence on the right wing has given Branislav Ivanovic the license to go into his attacking forays while Willian has helped him at the back way too often. With his all round ability, it has been easy for Mourinho to pick Willian. This impressive combo of energy, fitness and the ability to perform the defensive duties in a very disciplined way is proving fruitful for Willian as well as Chelsea, and so, at this moment, Willian is the perfect man to hold the position on the right flank.
Edited By: Vikram Vadiganeni