'Big influence': EFL star says Chelsea player was 'magnificent' in the second half vs Watford

Millwall winger Jed Wallace praised Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s second-half display for Chelsea against Watford last night.

Speaking on the BBC after the Blues narrowly edged past their hosts 2-1 at Vicarage Road, Wallace highlighted Loftus-Cheek as the catalyst for the away side’s victory.

The 25-year-old started a successive Premier League game for just the second time this season yesterday.

Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

After a shaky opening 45 minutes – he was certainly not the only one – Thomas Tuchel decided to drop the midfielder into a slightly more defensive position to absorb Watford’s threat.

RONALDO NEEDS TO STOP WHINING.

That switch, along with the introduction of Thiago Silva at the break, gave Chelsea the foundations to press ahead for the win.

Ruben’s reward

Hakim Ziyech’s first league goal of the campaign sealed all three points for the Champions League holders, but it was Tuchel’s tactical tweaks that ensured the triumph.

“I think a big influence in the second half was Loftus-Cheek dropping deeper,” said Wallace, who has 19 times in the Championship for Millwall this term.

“He made a mistake for Watford’s goal. He got robbed on the halfway line by a very impressive (Moussa) Sissoko.

“But, all credit to Loftus-Cheek, he’s been out for a long time with injury, his confidence might’ve dropped but he did the complete opposite.

Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

“He rolled his sleeves up and I thought in that second half he was magnificent.

“I thought that was a huge turning point in the game, with Loftus-Cheek actually winning the midfield battle against Sissoko and (Tom) Cleverly.”

Blues beat Watford, just

It looked like it was going to be a long evening for Loftus-Cheek when he gave the ball away for Watford’s equaliser.

His central midfielder partnership with Saul Niguez left a lot to be desired.

Tuchel recognised the pairing were simply not adding up, so switched Saul for Silva at the interval.

Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

The experienced Brazilian brought calm to Chelsea’s often nervous approach, an effect that clearly washed over Loftus-Cheek as well.

He appeared far more comfortable stationed slightly closer toward his own goal.

Although the Blues’ overall performance was far from reassuring, they got the job done, a sign of a true champion.  

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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.