Ben Chilwell (£5.8m) had started the 2023/24 season playing predominantly as a left winger but was named on the bench for Chelsea’s clash with Bournemouth on Sunday.
Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers have been quick to react, making Chilwell the most-sold defender for Gameweek 6 with more than 235,000 transfers out.
However, just under 30% of responders in our on-site poll are planning to keep Chilwell, ahead of Chelsea’s promising three-match run:
For those owners still umm-ing and ahh-ing over what to do with Chilwell, we’ll provide an overview of the current situation in this article, with input from Chelsea fans and Fantasy Football Scout contributors Zophar and Gianni Buttice.
CHILWELL’S ADVANCED ROLE
Chilwell has spent much of his career at Chelsea in defence, either as a full-back or wing-back. However, in Gameweeks 1 to 4, he was predominantly used in a left wing role, with the move initially brought about because of the unavailability of other players.
Explaining the reasons behind deploying Chilwell higher up the pitch, Mauricio Pochettino recently said:
“All the coaching staff feel disappointed when you lose players to injury, of course it affects the team, but we need to accept it and adapt. We need to find solutions with different players playing in different positions to try to get the best balance. Ben is a full-back who can help the team in a different position. In four games he has created more chances than any player. In the national team last week Ben played in a similar position.” – Mauricio Pochettino
Despite producing just one assist in his first four matches, Chilwell was involved in plenty of attacking sequences, ranking joint-third among defenders for shots in the box (six) and joint-fourth for chances created (nine). He also had a goal ruled out by VAR against Liverpool on the opening weekend.
Above: Ben Chilwell’s touch heatmap Gameweeks 1-4
WHY CHILWELL WAS BENCHED AT BOURNEMOUTH
Speaking ahead of Chelsea’s clash with Bournemouth on Sunday, Pochettino suggested he wanted a “more offensive” player on the left wing. As a result, Chilwell was replaced by Mykhailo Mudryk (£6.3m) in the first XI.
“I think we are going to play with Mudryk in the position that we normally have been playing Chilwell. We will play with a more offensive player and keep the back four.” – Mauricio Pochettino
A similar-ish situation occurred in Gameweek 4 – when Chelsea found themselves a goal down to Nottingham Forest and wanted more penetration, Noni Madueke (£5.4m) was thrown on for Chilwell just after the hour mark.
His benching on Sunday appeared to be a tactical decision, then, although it is worth noting Sky Sports commentary did mention a “small knock”. However, this hasn’t been verified anywhere since and could simply have been a misunderstanding on their part.
As for Mudryk, he was bright in the first half and created a couple of chances that the Blues couldn’t take. However, he was poor after the break and on 63 minutes, was the first Chelsea player to be taken off in the game for Cole Palmer (£4.9m).
The introduction of the former Manchester City man saw him take up a role on the right wing, with Raheem Sterling (£7.2m) shifting to the left flank.
Following the game, Pochettino demanded more from Mudryk:
“He is improving. He still needs to learn; the Premier League is very fast, the speed of the game is so fast. I think it’s about understanding the game better, try to be more connected sometimes with the team. We need to give the time and to give the tools for him to improve during the season. We need to be tough in the way we are trying. It’s about improving our efficiency in front of the goal.” – Mauricio Pochettino on Mykhailo Mudryk
Chilwell did appear off the bench on 80 minutes when he replaced Levi Colwill (£4.5m) at left-back. Shortly after coming on, he produced a nice cross for Nicolas Jackson (£7.0m) but was unable to make the desired impact and returned zero points after he was booked in injury time.
CHILWELL IN GW6 – WILL HE START?
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