Not just Victories & Clean sheets, Thomas Tuchel is bringing back Chelsea's Identity!
Chelsea isn't as attractive as they were under Sarri or Lampard. They are struggling to score goals. They haven’t scored more than two in any of the 14 games Thomas Tuchel managed. But...
It’s just been 8 weeks since the arrival of Thomas Tuchel to Chelsea. He has managed just over a dozen matches for the London outfit. Within this short period, the German professional has made name for himself among the Stamford Bridge faithful. He has brought stability to the team and has made Chelsea win matches. This has taken Chelsea to the top 4 of the Premier League table and cruised the team into the Champions League's quarter-finals.
Above all, Tuchel has brought back the identity of the club that has been lost in the last few years - Yes, Now Chelsea is defending like Chelsea!
The whole world might blame, the Wengers and Rodgers would criticise, the entire fraternity may complain. But, No Blue will bother any of that. Every Chelsea fan would be proud of the way Chelsea has played. The way they stood rock-solid in the back and thwarted the likes of Thierry Henry to the likes of Robin Van Persie, that’s football of a different colour. Any fan who blamed Chelsea for their playing style would have prayed for their team to defend like the Blues, at least once in his/her life. That was the solidity they showed over a decade after the Russian Millionaire’s jet landed in London. But in the last few years, Chelsea fans themselves were praying for their team to defend like Chelsea.
2019-20 Premier League season was Chelsea’s worst in Abramovich’s era, considering the number of goals conceded in the Premier League. Frank Lampard’s young defence had conceded 54 goals, 1 more than the disastrous 2015-16 season. This is largely due to the inexperience of the team and the slippery work of the world’s costliest goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga and Lampard’s reluctance to stop playing from the back.
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We can’t pin the blame completely on Lampard. The Blue’s legend has taken over a team that was in no way upgraded in the past few years. Mauricio Sarri incorporated his style of play in a team that played different football over the past few years. Above all, Kante was played out of position with no defensive reinforcements made. Chelsea started losing its identity.
Those two defeats against Bournemouth and Manchester City in 10 days or conceding 10 goals in the process is simply unacceptable. The 6-0 defeat against Pep Guardiola’s side and a 4-0 loss to Eddie Howe’s men should’ve brought tears to the Chelsea fans who grew up watching John Terry and Petr Cech marshalling the backline. Mourinho’s first Chelsea season saw them conceding just 15 goals in the entire Premier League season and this defence conceded 60 % of that in just 2 games.
Lampard’s Premier League reign too started with one such defeat against Manchester United, but he avoided such defeats any further. Still, Chelsea wasn’t as convincing, They lacked confidence which was visible through Kepa’s performances. Unlike Sarri he tried to resolve the issue, yet it wasn’t enough. Chelsea almost lost its confidence and identity completely.
This is what Tuchel has changed in his early days at the helm. Chelsea wasn’t as attractive as they were under Sarri or Lampard. They are struggling to score goals. They haven’t scored more than two in any of those 14 games. Even against the likes of Sheffield, Newcastle United, and Burnley, they weren’t piling up goals. But, what we should focus on is that they are not conceding. They let just two goals in the 14 games and kept clean sheets against big teams like Liverpool, Atletico Madrid, Manchester United, and Tottenham.
This is neither a coincidence nor the effect of a new manager’s honeymoon period. This is the Tuchel effect. He made a statement in his very first lineup by playing three at the back - ‘I don’t want to concede goals. The team that let Luton Town creating havoc in the box a few days ago, hasn’t conceded a shot on target against Wolves. The same performance was repeated against Burnley and in the next match, Kane-less Spurs could test Mendy only twice. Three clean sheets in three games and we could see the players gaining back the confidence.
The overall numbers will prove the point. Chelsea has conceded just 2 goals in these 14 matches, which is 13 less than what they conceded in the last 14 matches under Lampard. The number of shots faced by the Chelsea goalkeepers in this period comes down from 46 under Lampard to 32 under Tuchel. And at home, they are becoming a mighty side once again. So far, In the 7 home games under Tuchel, they are unbreached.
With Tuchel, it was evident that the primary objective of the defenders is to defend. Christensen and Rudiger are now living up to their name. They have formed a formidable partnership that no one has felt the absence of the mighty Thiago Silva. The New manager has managed them very well and has tried out the options perfectly. Against Leeds, he even tried reverting to the four-man backline. He even tried to position Christensen as the right-sided centre back in the back three to fit Silva into the defence once the Brazilian arrives. He has reinforced the defence. But has also been trying new things in a way that doesn’t disrupt the team.
Yes, Chelsea going undefeated under Tuchel is something to cherish. But their defensive form is something that is to be celebrated. Should they continue this form throughout the season, they would end up lifting a trophy this season, which their Russian owner wants desperately. As the wise manager Alex Ferguson once said, "It’ll be the defence that will win you trophies."
Then, the real Chelsea will be back!