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Talking Tactics

Second-season stars: Chalobah can rival best defenders

Adrian Clarke 3 Jul 2022
Chalobah home lead

Adrian Clarke reveals how Chelsea centre-back is producing numbers like Van Dijk and Dias

Adrian Clarke highlights players who are set to build on a debut campaign full of promise and set alight the Premier League this season.

Trevoh Chalobah (CHE)

At the age of 22, following three loan spells away from Stamford Bridge, academy graduate Chalobah finally made his breakthrough as a Chelsea first-team player last season.

Thomas Tuchel handed him 17 Premier League starts in total, while also trusting him to feature in his line-ups for the finals of the UEFA Super Cup, League Cup and FA Cup.

On the right side of a back three Chalobah was largely excellent for the Blues.

There were a couple of dips in form but overall the rookie was a big success, alternating with Cesar Azpilicueta in that wide centre-back role.

With Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen leaving the Blues this summer, we should see plenty more of Chalobah in 2022/23. 

Progressive passing

Chelsea's central defenders have the ball at their feet a lot more than most and Chalobah, who makes 71.43 successful passes per 90 minutes, is very comfortable with that requirement.

If there is space ahead of him to run into, he will surge forward, but it is his willingness to look up and play a vertical pass that stands out most.

Only a handful of other top-flight defenders can top his 27.8 forward passes per match.

Forward passes in 2021/22
Defender Forward passes per 90
Adam Webster 34.0
Thiago Silva 31.4
Romain Saiss 31.1
Nathan Ake 30.4
Aymeric Laporte 28.3
Trevoh Chalobah 27.8
Virgil van Dijk 27.7

Only two defenders from the above list also make the top five for pass accuracy.

Not only willing to take a risk by moving the ball in a progressive direction, Chalobah is also reliable in the precision of his distribution from the back.

Technically, he is more than capable of excelling at the highest level.

Best pass accuracy 2021/22
Defender Passing accuracy %
Aymeric Laporte 94.76
Ruben Dias 93.38
Thiago Silva 92.75
Daniel Amartey 90.75
Trevoh Chalobah 90.62

Chalobah also provided a goal threat in 2021/22, scoring three times in Premier League action. 

He drilled home a long-range strike on debut at home to Crystal Palace and followed that up with headers from corners against Southampton and Norwich City.

Averaging an effort on goal once every two matches, Chalobah has the potential to score between five and 10 goals this season if he earns a regular starting berth.

Snappy in the tackle

While Tuchel sees Chalobah as a central defender, he did enjoy spells as a central midfielder on loan at Ipswich Town, Huddersfield Town and Lorient.

That versatility could come in handy for Chelsea during his second campaign as a fully-fledged member of the first-team squad.

If the Blues need an extra body in midfield during the second half of a match, Chalobah could seamlessly move forward, or come straight into the fray as a midfielder off the bench.

Central defender tackles 2021/22
Player Most tackles won per 90
Cristian Romero 1.90
Pascal Struijk 1.71
Trevoh Chalobah 1.68
Joel Veltman 1.50
Mohammed Salisu 1.42

Chalobah's background in midfield has helped him become a combative presence.

Only two top-flight centre-backs won more tackles per match last term than the emerging star.

It is never easy for youngsters to build on a successful debut season at first-team level but Chalobah should take great heart from his promising displays last season.

If he continues to improve, Tuchel will hand him plenty more opportunities to shine.

Also in this series

Part 1: Michael Olise (CRY)
Part 2: Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (LEI)
Part 3: Joe Gelhardt (LEE)

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