As the countdown to the start of the season drew to a close, Chelsea had no more injuries to worry about, so perhaps it was more significant that their defender, Antonio Rudiger, and his new manager, Thomas Tuchel, got their first successful outing together. It was a notable start for both parties; Rudiger, whose starting spot was assured, felt he could return to his best form in the comfort of the regular team behind him. By contrast, Tuchel made a tactical adjustment at half-time as he looked to get his new signing back on track, a different approach than the one that had drawn criticism.
“Antonio was very happy to be back and we’re very happy to have him on board. He’s a great player and I hope he’ll show what he’s got,” Tuchel said. “It’s very rare to get a player who can be the best and he can live up to that. It’s just a question of not looking to play against team and, if he can, give his best.”
With their impressive Premier League form in 2016-17 and the Champions League remaining their priority, it might be noted that Rudiger has been on the road for most of the summer, so perhaps he was glad to get back into a familiar pattern.
There was also the in-game motion coach on hand to help him with his exercises with the ball, as the German defender showed his class in turning round the ball. But most fans would be looking at his next game for more reassurance from Rudiger about his impact at Chelsea and, perhaps, the battle of who plays in the centre.
Chelsea head to Newcastle, not to fear a backlash from the Newcastle faithful after defeat to Liverpool – quite the opposite, in fact. The Blues will be confident of picking up three points at St James’ Park, especially having collected six out of six on their own turf last season, and with a number of their defensive options poised to return in the near future. Willian and Marcos Alonso, who played in their previous encounters with Newcastle, are likely to be available, while Antonio Rudiger is on the mend, having missed the end of the season with knee ligament damage.