Chelsea fans seem convinced that the decision to drop Antonio Rudiger against Southampton was because of the defender’s comments last week about Antonio Conte’s tactics.
This could well be true, there’s no doubt of that. But it requires at least two assumptions, and it just isn’t as certain as some people are making out.
Firstly Rudiger’s comments, after the draw with West Ham where he said he “didn’t understand why after 1-0 we always drop and let the opponent get more ball possession,” as quoted here, are universally being assumed to be a criticism of the manager.
But they could just as easily be aimed at his fellow players. He’s right that the teams keeps dropping back after going ahead, but that’s the players on the field. He doesn’t say it’s down to instructions from the manager.
The fact that he didn’t play against Southampton was taken as evidence that he was being punished, but again, that’s not certain. Conte said it was a tactical call, and who’s to doubt him? The week before it was Christensen who sat out against West Ham, and next it could well be Azpi who gets a break.