While there have been a vast number of weaknesses littering the Chelsea squad this season, few have been greater than the defensive midfield position. With Nemanja Matic and John Obi Mikel struggling to establish a consistent vein of form, the Blues' back four is being consistently exposed.
The logical solution to this festering issue proves 20-year-old Ruben Loftus-Cheek who has experienced something of a breakthrough in 2015-16.
However, despite this appearing an obvious move, Guus Hiddink has remained stubborn in continuing to drip-feed the Englishman pitch time. If Chelsea are to continue their resurgence, Loftus-Cheek must be handed more appearances.
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Serbian midfielder Matic was nothing short of a revelation last season and proved an integral force in the Blues' emphatic march towards the Premier League title. Despite this, the ex-Benfica man's form has waned this season.
While injuries may have conspired against the 27-year-old, he has simply provided inadequate protection to the Stamford Bridge side's defensive line. Few Chelsea players have escaped criticism this season but the Serbian has undoubtedly been one of the most common offenders.
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Moreover, the presence of Mikel has offered little rest bite. The Nigerian did experience a brief renaissance upon the return of Guus Hiddink yet the 28-year-old has once again descended to being mocked by Chelsea supporters.
At a club wielding such prestige as Chelsea, the pair have not been good enough. Furthermore, moves to deploy Cesc Fabregas in this position have seen the Spaniard's talent wasted and his contributions to offensive moves constricted.
As a consequence of the unsuccessful chopping and changing taking place in the defensive regions of Chelsea's midfield, Hiddink should initiate change. However, cries for Loftus-Cheek to step up to the gauntlet have largely gone unheard.
12 appearances this season is far from harsh but the majority of these showings have proven cameos from the bench. The club seems to be blindly persisting with Matic and Mikel despite their underlying unreliability.
Loftus-Cheek has impressed in the limited games he's been deployed in. The Englishman has shown positional awareness beyond his years and the discipline necessary to eventually master the defensive midfield position.
In addition, his offensive capabilities have been showcased recently upon his tenacious forward burst winning a late penalty against West Ham. The 20-year-old's clinical finish against Scunthorpe also displayed his ability to finish in the 18-yard box.
After all, considering Chelsea's laughable chances of making the top four, nothing would be risked in blooding the midfielder. Besides, the form of their current men in this position is strongly indicative that Loftus-Cheek would perform far better.
Hiddink has been a pioneer in introducing young players in the context of Chelsea, yet he has been uncharacteristically cautious with Loftus-Cheek. However, with the club's season over and Matic and co. continuing to flop, it only seems logical to hand the Englishman more game time.
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