Chelsea have acquired resilience in Thomas Tuchel's first month
Chelsea have acquired resilience and cohesion in Thomas Tuchel’s first month in charge, but they are not quite as fun to watch as they were… another delve into the transfer market beckons – but there are signs of progress
- One month under Thomas Tuchel and there is evidence of progress for Chelsea
- Unbeaten in nine Chelsea have taken 15 points from seven in the Premier League
- They are in the last eight of the FA Cup and doing well in the Champions League
- But, Tuchel’s Chelsea side have only scored 10 goals since his arrival at the club
One month of life under Thomas Tuchel and there is evidence of progress for Chelsea.
Unbeaten in nine games, they have taken 15 points from seven in the Premier League, are into the last eight of the FA Cup and are nicely poised in the Champions League, a goal up after the away leg against Atletico Madrid.
Tuchel will be encouraged if not entirely satisfied. They are undeniably more solid albeit not quite such fun to watch and they ended his first month at the helm as they started it, with a goalless draw at home.
One month of life under manager Thomas Tuchel and there is evidence of progress for Chelsea
Frank Lampard’s first nine games in the job produced a blaze of 38 goals and his last nine produced 27 with almost as many conceded as scored in each case.
Tuchel’s Chelsea have scored just 10 – three of them penalties – and let in only two.
It is a familiar cycle when a tactical coach steps into a misfiring team in midst of a season.
The instinct is to tighten up. In this instance, reverting to the back-three and deploying two, slightly deeper, screening midfielders. And adding a little more experience.
Unbeaten in nine games, Chelsea have taken 15 points from seven in the Premier League
Chelsea have coped well with the absence of Thiago Silva (above), who has been out injured
Defensively, the outcome has been successful. Two goals conceded and clean sheets against teams such as Tottenham, Atletico and Manchester United provides a very solid base.
Chelsea have coped well with the absence of Thiago Silva and the return of Cesar Azpilicueta has restored defensive acumen and an important voice in the ear of the officials.
Azpilicueta was lurking on the referee’s shoulder as he examined the replays of the Callum Hudson-Odoi handball in the first half and it was settled in Chelsea’s favour.
Edouard Mendy has retained his place in goal and made an excellent block to deny Scott McTominay in the closing stages. N’Golo Kante is back in midfield, proving there are few better when it comes to breaking up play.
In an attacking sense, three at the back leans towards Tuchel’s desire to press high and regain possession in the attacking third. But goals have been hard to find, increasingly so as times has offered opponents the chance to study his strategies and plot to neutralise threats.
Edouard Mendy retained his place and made an excellent block to deny Scott McTominay
However, the likes of Olivier Giroud (right) was unable to make the difference and replaced
At Southampton, Chelsea needed a penalty to rescue a point and penalties to win the games against Sheffield United and Tottenham.
Against Atletico in Bucharest, they were grateful for the flash of brilliance by Olivier Giroud. His reward was to keep his place. This time, however, Giroud was unable to make the difference and replaced by Christian Pulisic.
Timo Werner was thrown on later. Werner has been more influential and yet Tuchel’s arrival has not launched him back to his prolific best in a way he might have hoped.
The clearest chance of the game fell to Hakim Ziyech and he was unable to beat David de Gea. There were glimpses from set-pieces and Edouard Mendy made a good block to deny Scott McTominay.
‘Really poor,’ groaned Roy Keane in the Sky Sports studio. ‘Some of these games have been really boring considering there’s good attacking players on the team.’
And you could see his point but imagine Keane tearing them apart if they were sloppy at the back, conceding chances and goals galore.
Chelsea have acquired resilience and cohesion and yet balance is everything. It always is. Tweak the team, release and risk, perform with more freedom and you expose the defence and concede more goals.
The clearest chance of the game fell to Hakim Ziyech and he was unable to beat David de Gea
Frank Lampard’s first nine games produced a blaze of 38 goals, whereas Tuchel has 10
Lampard is probably sat at home thinking he could have made them tighter at the back but they wouldn’t have scored so many goals.
Or delve back into the transfer market as is usually the way at Stamford Bridge.
Can they win the scramble to shower Mino Raiola with riches and sign Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund? Will that provide the answer?
Kai Havertz, by the way, signed for a club record £72million last summer, spent another 90 minutes on the bench and Tammy Abraham was omitted from the match-day squad.
Still, signs of progress for sure. When Tuchel arrived, Chelsea were ninth and now they are fifth. They are back in touch with qualification for the Champions League, which is always a factor in the boardroom.
But they are no closer to the top. They are 18 points from leaders. When they sacked Lampard they were 11 points adrift and the leaders were Manchester United.
It has been an encouraging month for Chelsea but February belongs to Manchester City.
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