Romelu Lukaku was full of praise for Chelsea teammates who started in the back three in the 3-0 win over Aston Villa on Saturday.
The 28-year-old’s clinical finishing — two goals from only two shot attempts — made the final scoreline look far more comfortable than it could have been for Chelsea, but they actually had to work a lot more at the other end of the pitch.
Dean Smith’s Villa side managed to create more chances than the home side, particularly in the first half, but the resilient Chelsea defence successfully kept another clean sheet in the end.
Lukaku did not seem surprised though. He even pointed out how he himself often finds it difficult to play against these Chelsea defenders in training.
“The defence is maybe the base of our success,” the Belgium international told Chelsea TV after the Villa game.
“The defence is doing an incredible job, and from there, we try to build confidence.
“We know we have a lot of players who can deliver the ball, and we have a lot of players who can score the goals.
“Thiago [Silva], Toni [Rudiger], Trevoh [Chalobah] — they were amazing. In training, it’s very tough to play against them. We push each other very hard.”
Bear in mind, Thomas Tuchel also decided to rest the likes of Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta due to their busy international break.
Chelsea simply have a plethora of quality options at the back, regardless of team rotation.
While Tuchel certainly would have liked to see his team create more goalscoring opportunities in the final third, the team performance on Saturday suggests that they have what they would need to challenge for the league title.
These are a strong defence that can bail them out of difficult situations and a clinical finisher who can win them games even when they are not at their best offensively.