Surprising Chelsea player has already made more tackles than anyone in the League Cup this season

Playing the word association game with the Chelsea squad is usually quite straightforward.

We’d say leadership, you’d say Cesar Azpilicueta.

Mention strength and you’d reply Reece James.

Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images

Speed, Timo Werner.

Passing, Jorginho.

Tackling would probably go to N’Golo Kante.

However, there is another man who is coming after Kante’s crown in this department.

Saul suffering

Since signing for Chelsea in the summer, Saul Niguez has rarely finished top of the class in his club’s new colours.

He is in a relegation battle for appearances (11) and is in the drop zone for goals (zero).

Two assists places the midfielder around mid-table.

Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images

With only half a dozen starts to his name, the Spaniard has been scraping the bottom of the barrel.

50% of those outings have arrived in the Carabao Cup, the competition he has found a slither of comfort in.

Saul played the full 90 minutes against Brentford last night, just the second time he’s lasted an entire match for Chelsea.

Although it was not a vintage performance – these have been few and far between – the 27-year-old seemed more confident than usual, which again is saying something.

Spanish armada

His complete outing in the capital yesterday helped boost a statistic that will surprise every Blues supporter up and down the country.

According to WhoScored.com, Saul has now made more tackles (14) than any player in the League Cup this season.

Photo by Harriet Lander – Chelsea FC/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

This is despite playing two fewer games than some of the Championship or lower league sides.

Four times the Spain international disposed Brentford on Wednesday, the most anybody managed on the pitch that evening.

So, maybe when we play the word association game again, your answer for tackling might be different (although we doubt that).

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.