Ashley Cole: What I really think about Saul Niguez at Chelsea FC
Ashley Cole delivers his verdict on Saul Niguez's performance for Chelsea FC against Tottenham on Wednesday night
Ashley Cole was impressed by Saul Niguez’s performance for Chelsea FC against Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday night but admits he is not sure whether he’ll be able to hold down a regular spot in Thomas Tuchel’s side.
The 27-year-old Spaniard, who is on loan from Atletico Madrid, has seen his first-team opportunities at Stamford Bridge to be limited this season, with Saul having only started two games in the Premier League so far.
He made just his seventh start of the season in all competitions on Wednesday night as he produced a strong display to help Chelsea FC take a step closer towards the League Cup final with a 2-0 victory over Spurs in the first leg of their last-four clash in south west London.
Saul impressed in the heart of Chelsea FC’s midfield as Kai Havertz’s opener and Ben Davies’ own-goal settled the game – but former Blues star Cole is not sure whether the Spaniard will be able to break into the first team on a regular basis because of the level of competition in Tuchel’s squad.
Assessing Saul’s performance against Spurs, Cole said on Sky Sports after the game: “I thought he played well. I think he had good balance with Jorginho in there, he had a little bit more license for freedom.
“Yes, he played in a two but he could go out into those wide areas a little more with Jorginho just sat a little bit.
“In terms of his overall performance and the worries and concerns people had around him, he’s done enough tonight to warrant that he should get more opportunities.
“But ultimately, the two or three players in front of him are playing so well so it will be very tough to get into this team.”
Saul will be hoping to hold down a more regular spot in Tuchel’s first team in the second half of the season as he bids to help the Blues challenge for honours this term.
Blues boss Tuchel was pleased with the midfielder’s performance on Wednesday night and said he has been impressed by his application in training in recent days as well.
“He is more happy, he is more free in training, I see it every day,” Tuchel told his post-match news conference. “He played better when he came on against Wolverhampton and had a good impact. He’s stepping up.
“I was so happy when I saw him on the sideline when we scored the equaliser against Liverpool because he was totally committed, it was very impressive to see him like this.
“It’s an important moment for him, but I have a feeling like he digested the experiences in the beginning when he maybe did not expect it like this.
“He’s not the first player to struggle from the switch and what he does is good because he’s open, he’s fully focused and totally committed to the team, so I’m very happy that he had a performance like today, it was a huge step forward.”
Chelsea FC will host Chesterfield in the FA Cup third round on Saturday evening.