Ruben Loftus-Cheek has had a very tough time of it at Stamford Bridge this season. Despite impressing on loan at Crystal Palace last season, the Englishman has found it difficult to make his mark in blue this term, with Maurizio Sarri generally preferring to utilise the duo of Ross Barkley and Mateo Kovacic in place of him throughout the season.
When he has got a chance, though, he’s almost always impressed – with match-winning performances in the Europa League the most obvious example.
His lack of opportunities have continually raised question marks about his long-term future at Stamford Bridge. After all, he’s good enough to play for a top team, and if Chelsea won’t start him, someone else undeniably will.
So far, those question marks have largely been irrelevant, as Loftus-Cheek was getting occasional minutes and it was always going to be hard for Sarri to drop either Ross Barkley or Mateo Kovacic when both of them were playing so well.
However, that’s no longer the case.
Mateo Kovacic has really struggled over the last few weeks, with the Croatian not really offering much in the midfield. He holds onto the ball well and passes decently, but he rarely makes driving runs forward, whilst he hasn’t registered an assist since September.
Likewise, Ross Barkley has stuttered somewhat for club and country in recent weeks, whilst he also didn’t feature for the Blues on Sunday due to injury.
So, there’s never been a better chance for Loftus-Cheek to make it at Chelsea. His competition is struggling, whilst his performances now are better than they have been in some time, as evidenced by his impact on Sunday.
It’s quickly becoming clear that it’s now or never for him. He’ll never get a better chance to impress, and so it’s down for Sarri to reward him for his form – and it’s down to him to continue to make the most of it.