Our review of the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) Gameweek 10 action continues with Newcastle United v Chelsea.
Newcastle United 0-3 Chelsea
- Goals: Reece James (£5.7m) x2, Jorginho (£5.8m) penalty
- Assists: Ruben Loftus-Cheek (£5.4m), Kai Havertz (£8.1m)
- Bonus: James x3, Jorginho x2, Ben Chilwell (£5.9m) x2
The most-bought player of Gameweek 10, Mason Mount (£7.6m), failed to make Chelsea’s matchday squad on Saturday.
The Blues confirmed that the midfielder missed out through illness, with Thomas Tuchel offering the following update:
“[Mount] should have started but he got ill overnight and so we sent him home to London so that we can take care of him better and that he can recover better.” – Thomas Tuchel on Mason Mount
When “illness” is cited these days, the concern is that it could be Covid-related and lead to an absence of more than one fixture.
The player himself eased those fears on social media:
“Gutted to have missed the game but what a performance from the lads to get the win. Woke up and didn’t feel 100% (non COVID related) but will hopefully be fully recovered over the next couple of days.” – Mason Mount
Monday brought news that Mount is not fit enough to make the trip to Malmo for Tuesday’s Champions League tie, so the flag looks set to remain on the midfielder until Tuchel’s pre-Gameweek 11 presser:
“For Mason, he does not feel really better. To stop any speculation, it’s not Covid – he’s just ill and does not feel good enough to take part in training and, of course, take part in the trip to Malmo.” – Thomas Tuchel
BEST CHELSEA DEFENDERS?
“Which Chelsea defender(s) should I buy” has perhaps been the most consistently asked question on these pages over the last few months, with the answers changing from week to week.
The perceived wisdom that a double-up on Ben Chilwell (£6.0m) and Reece James (£5.7m) is too risky, given Tuchel’s predilection for rotation at wing-back, is certainly being challenged, with the pair racking up a combined six goals and 78 points over the last four Gameweeks alone.
James’s superbly taken brace against Newcastle made him Chelsea’s leading goalscorer in the top flight this season and despite four ‘one pointers’ in his seven Premier League appearances in 2021/22, James is second only to Chilwell for points per match among FPL defenders.
Tuchel talked of the importance of goal contributions from his wing-backs after full-time:
“Reece is allowed to come inside, that’s not a problem. We have players in all the spaces in which we want to be dangerous. So if there is a winger waiting wide, it is absolutely allowed to attack the half-space from wing-back.
“In general, I think every team in this system does this. We need the wing-backs to arrive in the box at the end of our attacks to increase the chance of scoring and creating goal chances.” – Thomas Tuchel
Those comments followed similar ones from his pre-match presser, in which he hinted that the Blues were encouraging James to get forward even more – although he also namechecked positional rivals Marcos Alonso (£5.6m) and Cesar Azpilicueta (£6.1m) when discussing Saturday’s starters:
“It’s a very important position, the system that we play. Of course, a very important part of the position is to arrive in the box, and to create a goal threat from the position.
“This is what we want and what we demand. I’m happy that Chilly is scoring and reaching his full potential and pushing limits constantly because it fits pretty perfectly his personal player profile.
“For Reece, you see sometimes he plays in the back three but this means that I would not do this with Chilly. His character means he is not the type of guy to play in the back-three, he takes more risk and he is more free to arrive in offensive positions.
“For Reece, we have to encourage him to trust himself to arrive in the box and be dangerous because he can be a real threat, physically and actually also technically in finishing some fantastic goals against Arsenal and Norwich.
“I am happy with everybody, Marcos [Alonso] was very strong at the beginning, Chilly is now very strong, and Azpi and Reece are very strong at right wing-back. Callum made a huge step in the last game and took one for the team because everybody was out.” – Thomas Tuchel
Above: Premier League defenders sorted by minutes per penalty box touch (minimum of 90 minutes played)
It should be said that Chilwell and James both boast shot-to-goal conversion rates of over 40% this season, percentages that would be unsustainable for even forwards over the course of a campaign, let alone two wing-backs.
We may have hit peak Chilwell and James already, then, with everything coming together (fixtures against two of the worst defences in the division, some perfect execution of low-percentage chances, successive starts) in the last few weeks.
The Blues’ superb defensive record means that a double-up on their backline remains a viable tactic now and going forward, but with 13 competitive matches to contest in the space of 42 days starting from Gameweek 12 and rotation likely to ramp up elsewhere in the division over Christmas, the slightly-more-secure Antonio Rudiger (£5.9m) might still be the sensible play alongside one of Chilwell or the feast-or-famine James.
CHELSEA STRIKERS STRUGGLING FOR GOALS
Kai Havertz (£8.1m) banked an assist for Jorginho‘s (£5.8m) second-half penalty but it was another game without a goal for not just the German but the nominated spearhead of Chelsea’s attack.
Multiple spurned opportunities from the likes of Tammy Abraham and Timo Werner (£8.6m) when playing in the role in the past suggests the personnel have to shoulder some of the blame but it’s also true that Tuchel’s system requires a bit of sacrificial work from whoever is leading the line, something the Chelsea boss alluded to in his post-match press conference when talking about James’s first goal:
“We were dangerous on the first post with Kai [Havertz], the middle of the goal with Ross [Barkley], and then the second post even with Ruben [Loftus-Cheek]. Then it’s possible to score on the far post.
“This is why sometimes our strikers are sacrificing to create space and chances for the others. It will always be like this.” – Thomas Tuchel
Romelu Lukaku (£11.5m) should return to fitness in Gameweek 12 but with the Blues perhaps yet to figure out a way to get the best out of their star striker, on top of what is discussed above, there likely won’t be a huge rush for his services.
The Magpies had actually kept Chelsea at bay until midway through the second half before the inevitable happened.
Interim manager Graeme Jones has seemingly gone back to basics and targeted a more defence-first approach, turning to a 5-3-2 and citing the need for clean sheets as a start point.
“For 65 minutes we were competitive. That was the game plan. We had a little bit of momentum in their half when the ball could have dropped our way.
“I think it needs a fresh face. I think the fans were incredible today. It’s not a style of football the fans are accustomed to, we want to attack people, we want to score goals. But this is the stage we’re in.
“We haven’t kept enough clean sheets this season and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out what the need is at the minute.” – Graeme Jones
Unless there is a change of manager before the weekend, Robert Sanchez (£4.6m) and co won’t have any sleepless nights ahead of the Gameweek 11 meeting at the Amex.
Newcastle XI: Darlow, Manquillo, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie, Krafth, Hayden (Almiron 66), S.Longstaff (Shelvey 81), Fraser (Willock 66), Saint-Maximin, Wilson.
Chelsea XI: Mendy, Christensen, Thiago Silva, Rudiger, James, Kante (Loftus-Cheek 64), Jorginho, Chilwell, Ziyech (Barkley 64), Hudson-Odoi (Saul 88), Havertz.