Chelsea

Pat Nevin picks the two Chelsea players who are key to Premier League title push next season

Football.London

Chelsea legend Pat Nevin has told Chelsea they need Reece James and Ben Chillwell to stay fit in order for the club to mount a serious title challenge next season.

The Blues finished third but were 19 points off eventual champions Man City and 18 behind second-placed Liverpool in a season where Thomas Tuchel’s side were considered among the favourites to lift the league title in May. Chelsea were coming off the back of a season where they were crowned European champions after beating City in the UEFA Champions League final.

Injuries to both James and Chilwell early on in the season hampered Tuchel’s ability to attack down the flanks and though James did return to help guide the team to an FA Cup and Carabao Cup final, Chilwell had to wait until the final game of the season to be named in a matchday squad.

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The top two teams in England both boast full-backs who dictate not only how their team plays but provide goals and assists from wide areas, something Chelsea were lacking when both James and Chilwell were out for long periods of time. Their fitness next term will be crucial to the squad, with Marcos Alonso expected to leave the club this summer.

And former Blues winger Nevin has said that the attackers will benefit next season from the duo staying ‘fit and on form,’ enabling the club to be in the ‘main shootout’ in the 2022/23 campaign.

“For a brief time we finally had Ben Chilwell and Reece James roaming the flanks again, and turning up in those areas where they terrorised almost every team at the start of the season,” Nevin told Chelsea’s official website. “It was a heart-warming sight. If you consider how much Liverpool have relied on Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold for assists in this campaign, it gives you an idea of what we missed for a large part of the season.

“Have a look at the position of those two for our winner at the weekend. Reece is at the byline crossing the ball in, and if Ross Barkley doesn’t score, the man right behind him ready to snap up the winner is the returning Chilwell. Just as importantly, how do you think Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic, Timo Werner and more than anyone, Romelu Lukaku and Kai Havertz, would feel about having that sort of quality service back on tap?

“Clearly Chelsea are best of the rest behind Man City and Liverpool in terms of points as well as goals scored. The distance behind the Reds in particular is minimal when y…

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