Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger has this afternoon provided some clarity on the comments which are widely thought to have resulted in his omission from the Blues’ squad that faced Southampton on Saturday afternoon.
Antonio Conte’s Chelsea travelled to St. Mary’s for the first of the weekend’s Premier League fixtures, with a thrilling affair having eventually seen the Blues overturn a 2-goal deficit courtesy of a blitzing 8-minute spell in the second-half.
Substitute Olivier Giroud proved the catalyst that the capital giants were crying out for, grabbing a brace after replacing Alvaro Morata on the hour mark.
The French hitman notched his side’s first of the day in the 70th-minute, diving bravely to nod home a whipped Marcos Alonso cross from the left, before Eden Hazard’s superb touch and finish were added to just minutes later by another excellent strike from Giroud.
Ahead of kick-off on Saturday, one of the main talking points amongst Chelsea’s fans was the absence of defender Antonio Rudiger not only from their side’s starting XI, but from the Blues’ squad altogether.
Antonio Conte, who instead opted for Gary Cahill as part of a back 3, was questioned on the German’s missing out after the clash, with the Italian tactician revealing that Rudiger’s absence was not due to a fitness problem:
‘No [there is no injury], it was a tactical decision.’
What Conte failed to elude to, however, was the fact that Rudiger called into question his manager’s tactics two weekends ago, after Chelsea threw away a 1-0 lead versus West Ham to eventually drop 2 points:
‘I think in the second half we [could] finish the game [off]. But like the last few months, we didn’t and we [conceded],’ Rudiger mused.
‘For me, it’s not easy to explain. I don’t understand why after 1-0 we always drop and let the opponent get more ball possession.’
As such, it was widely agreed that Rudiger was dropped for Saturday’s clash as a disciplinary measure.
Speaking in an interview with German outlet ZDF earlier today, Rudiger himself was questioned on whether he felt as though he had been omitted from Chelsea’s squad to take on Southampton due to his previous comments, with the 25-year-old admitting as much:
‘Probably. But I didn’t mean it that way.’
‘It was a fact, it wasn’t about the tactics. I did not attack anyone personally, I meant us as a team.’
‘I played quite a lot of games in recent weeks and months. This was a little break.’
Rudiger also went on to discuss his relationship with Antonio Conte, praising the Italian tactician who of course brought him to Stamford Bridge from AS Roma last summer:
‘It’s just normal from my side. He’s my coach. I must respect him. And he’s a very, very good coach.’