An unprecedented 2020/21 season has brought unexpected changes and sensational results in football globally. What has been a difficult year has spilled into all walks of life, as the human race seeks to move on from the pandemic.
The Premier League has had its fair share of collapses and wonderful breakthroughs. However, Manchester City are still walking to the title unopposed.
In keeping with the times, it has been an up and down season at Chelsea, with club legend Frank Lampard making way for German Thomas Tuchel midway through the season.
The club’s record goalscorer had overseen a huge influx of talent with a £220m outlay on new signings over the summer. Things started according to plan with steady performances followed by a 16-game unbeaten run which saw Chelsea reach the top of the league table by early December.
However, things would quickly turn sour with a run of five defeats in eight games over the thick of winter dampening any hopes of a title race. After a 2-0 defeat to Leicester cast top-four hopes in serious doubt, Lampard was given the axe and quickly replaced by Tuchel.
A 14-game unbeaten run, the best-ever start by a Chelsea manager, has been sweetened by only two goals conceded and an ongoing six-game streak without conceding. Chelsea are back in fourth with hopes for silverware after qualifying for the Champions League quarter finals and FA Cup semi final.
With a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 16 games to the end of the season following the March international break, we are well-placed to look back on the best players of the ongoing season.
With that in mind, here are Chelsea’s five best players in the 2020/21 season so far.
Mount has long been regarded as the teacher’s pet by some due to his ever-presence for club and country. However, that only scratches the surface of what the player really is.
He has been Chelsea’s most consistent player in 2020/21 and is proving so since Thomas Tuchel took over in January, becoming the club’s highest goal-scorer under the new manager.
The 22-year-old’s 73 key passes are bettered only by Jack Grealish and Bruno Fernandes in the Premier League, and he has provided the most crosses (135) despite playing centrally. So far, Mount is responsible for six goals and six assists.
The midfielder’s energy and work rate has seen him register 2.1 tackles per game in his role at the heart of the team. He is also fifth in the league for total pressures (516) and Mount’s 59 tackles in the league are not bettered by any attack-minded player bar Andros Townsend (64) of Crystal Palace.
The academy graduate’s versatility has come to the fore and hasn’t affected his all-out displays as he filled in at several positions from central midfield to the flanks.
Mount has duly clocked the most minutes for the first team, and captained Chelsea twice in the FA Cup this year as his influential performances have provided a huge catalyst for teammates and fans.
The Senegalese has magnificently turned around the fortunes of Chelsea’s defense after some of their worst defensive statistics in Premier League history last season.
The €25million signing from Rennes has brought his huge 6’6″ frame between the posts to make the difference as his presence in the box relieves pressure from crosses. Mendy is joint-second for most clean sheets with 14 and has the highest clean sheet percentage in the Premier League with 58.3%.
20 clean sheets in 32 appearances for the blues tells its own story of a man relishing his first year in England. Mendy further boasts an incredible save percentage of 75.4% and his form is a big reason why Chelsea are tipped to go far in the UCL this season.
Mendy’s exceptional form between the posts has been aided by the veteran Silva ensuring a calmer Chelsea defense since he joined on a free.
The ex-PSG captain’s leadership has been a shrewd addition to a talented backline that suffered in Frank Lampard’s first season at the helm.
Silva’s world-class presence at the back has helped Chelsea’s flair players to flourish in front of a tight core marshaled by the Brazilian. The 36-year-old’s command of his teammates helps them during games and his crisp passing often dictates the play for Chelsea.
Pertinently, Silva was Tuchel’s captain at PSG and helped with integrating the new ideas due to his prior knowledge of the German’s methods. Having suffered a thigh strain only a week into Tuchel’s reign, Thiago’s presence behind the scenes remains keenly felt as he was seen barking orders from the stands in the second half of the victory over Atletico Madrid and celebrated Emerson’s late clincher wildly with his unavailable colleagues.
An inspired addition to the squad and a true blessing in his first season in England.
The Frenchman has had to slow it down after niggling injuries hit his 2019/20 campaign which saw him miss over 50% of Chelsea’s fixtures. Kante has played 36 games this season and looks back to his absolute best.
With the fifth-highest in the league, Kante has registered 71 tackles at a rate of 2.8 per game, and 54 interceptions as he played in his preferred lone holding midfield role under Lampard; before Tuchel’s double-pivot took over.
The 47-year-old has been full of praise for Kante as he has been equally world-class alongside Jorginho or Mateo Kovacic.
“I never know the age of my players just from performance. If you play with him, you play with half a man more because he gives intensity and volume that is outstanding and is unique,” Tuchel said of the midfield destroyer, who remains one of football’s hardest-working players as he approaches his 30th birthday.
Kante was the man of the match in Chelsea’s recent 2-0 Champions League last 16 win over Atlético which set up a quarterfinal clash with Porto, and his presence is key for the Londoners in the knockout stages.
Werner was Chelsea’s statement £49.5m signing and big things were expected of the striker, who had signed following interest from Liverpool after becoming RB Leipzig’s record goal-scorer in four seasons at the club.
It’s not quite panned out as well with many ups and downs but Werner hasn’t been lacking commitment whenever he steps on the pitch for Chelsea.
Despite a damaging 14-game goal drought over the winter months, the German has remained a dangerous player for the blues with his speed helping to stretch defenses even when he isn’t scoring.
Despite having missed several chances during his frustrating dry spell, Werner admitted he prefers to help his team create chances and win games when goals dry up and no player has been involved in more Chelsea goals this season than his 20.
10 goals and 10 assists with several penalties won in 39 appearances prove the 25-year-old remains a vital attacking asset.
Werner showed from his debut against Brighton that he would be a menace for Premier League defenses for years to come and Chelsea are giving him the time he needs to adapt in a difficult year off the pitch.
Indeed, Werner is already building good connections with his attacking teammates and Chelsea will be all the better for it. Tuchel considers his compatriot an important part of his plans in the inside-left or center-forward position. He could come good in no time.