Thomas Tuchel believes Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s ability to beat players with his dribbling can help Chelsea win midfield battles against high-pressing teams.
The Blues secured a convincing 3-1 win over Southampton on Saturday after two consecutive defeats to Manchester City and Juventus.
Tuchel made several changes in the starting line-up and gave two players; Ben Chilwell and Loftus-Cheek, their first Premier League starts this season.
Loftus-Cheek, in particular, is an interesting case. Very few expected him to play any significant role in the team before the season started.
Now Tuchel sees the 25-year-old as a valuable weapon to beat opposition pressure.
“In the last two games, obviously we lost, and we felt that [we lacked] something, so we decided to put Ruben,” said the Chelsea manager in his post-match press conference (via Hayters TV).
“Because we are aware of the [opposition] high pressing in midfield and we still want to go through our midfield.
“To have Ruben and [Mateo] Kova who can not only pass but also drive with the ball to escape the pressing was the reason we picked them.”
For the Blues fans, Loftus-Cheek’s reclaiming his spot at Chelsea is certainly a pleasant surprise.
The versatile midfielder struggled to regain his form after the unfortunate long-term Achilles’ injury back in 2019, but he seems to be more and more confident on the ball lately.
As Tuchel pointed out, dribbling can be crucial in escaping opposition pressure.
Against Southampton, Loftus-Cheek completed three dribbles, while Kovacic completed four, and as a result Chelsea really dominated the game, especially in the first half.