It's finally happening.
After 13 of the longest months in club history, Ruben Loftus-Cheek is back and has been named in the starting lineup for Sunday's meeting with Aston Villa.
We haven't seen Loftus-Cheek since May 2019, when he picked up an Achilles injury during a post-season (yet pre-Europa League final) friendly against New England Revolution.
It's been a long road to recovery which has been full of setbacks. Loftus-Cheek was closing in on a return before football was shut down, but now 'normality' has been restored, the Englishman is finally ready for his first competitive game in 13 months.
It's safe to say that Chelsea fans were more than a little excited.
Waiting 105 days to watch Loftus-cheek again was totally worth it.— Conn (@ConnCFC) June 21, 2020
I'm seeing ruben the almighty loftus cheek start a game of footy today, tears in my eyes— P (@jewellershandss) June 21, 2020
The 24-year-old is one of the most polarising figures in English football. Many Chelsea fans will happily wax lyrical about Loftus-Cheek for hours on end, but there are plenty of rival supporters who believe he is little more than wasted potential.
After all, injury struggles and stubborn managers have restricted Loftus-Cheek to just 72 senior appearances for Chelsea - 30 of which came as a starter - and that's obviously not good for a 24-year-old. He's no 'youngster' anymore.
However, for Chelsea, he could be exactly what has been missing for the last two seasons. He provides pace, power and energy, and most Blues fans seem to believe that he could be the catalyst for Champions League qualification.
me everytime Loftus Cheek carries the ball forward pic.twitter.com/L9rjj4qC3x— nyati (@collinsnchore) June 21, 2020
Ruben Loftus-Cheek STARTS. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.— َ (@HakimZ10i) June 21, 2020
If Ruben Loftus-Cheek gets on the scoresheet today after 13 months of being out I can assure you I'll temporarily go crazy doing knee slides in my living room.— Mod (@CFCMod_) June 21, 2020
Ruben. Loftus-Cheek.— B | #BlackLivesMatter✊?✊?✊? (@brandonmorgan_0) June 21, 2020
That’s the tweet.
Loftus-Cheek wasn't the only surprise addition to Chelsea's team sheet. More than a few eyebrows were raised towards the decision to start Olivier Giroud over Tammy Abraham.
The young Englishman was Frank Lampard's first-choice striker before picking up an injury, but time has passed and Abraham has fully recovered. If training photos are to be believed, he even looks to have bulked up during football's absence.
However, Lampard has kept faith in Giroud, who fired home two goals in three games before the break, and fans are divided...
Giroud ?— Omoba Daniel ‼️‼️ (@omobadaniel_) June 21, 2020
And Giroud over Abraham too? Weird selection.— Bobby Of Axelrod (@Wagnerovich) June 21, 2020
Giroud-Willian is an awful AWFUL combo, no goals between the 2 and useless against smaller sides, hard to think of 2 footballers who compliment each other less— VB (@Bluesesque) June 21, 2020
Giroud scored against Tottenham - he can't be useless against smaller sides?
Happy Giroud is starting— sir cartier (@DonAbloh) June 21, 2020
Happy Giroud is starting, doesn’t deserve to miss out with his performances pre lockdown— Ben Cissell (@BenCissell) June 21, 2020
Source : 90min