Chelsea are still in transition under new head coach Thomas Tuchel and wile results have been good, things can get even better
Taking ten points from 12 on offer represents a good start from Thomas Tuchel having taken over as Chelsea head coach from Frank Lampard.
Just 24 hours after penning his 18-month contract in west London, Tuchel was thrown in at the deep end for his first game in charge against Wolves at Stamford Bridge, securing a point in a 0-0 draw.
The German head coach has reeled off three successive wins since then by beating Burnley, Spurs and Sheffield United and has taken the Blues from ninth to fifth to get their top four chase back on track.
Heading into Monday’s visit of Newcastle to west London, the Blues are just one point behind Liverpool who are in the midst of a horrendous run by their standards, losing three of their last five matches.
A win over Newcastle and the Reds dropping points to Leicester at the King Power on Saturday could see Tuchel’s side leapfrog them into fourth.
It is fair to say that despite the results, Chelsea haven’t really been in full flight under Tuchel yet as he tinkers with his starting eleven though he has seemingly settled on a five-man defence since replacing Lampard.
So what are the things that Tuchel needs to improve if we are being hyper-critical of his reign so far?
Getting more out of his strikers
In Tuchel’s four games in charge, they have scored in three of them but none of the goals have come from his forwards.
Neither Timo Werner, Olivier Giroud or Tammy Abraham have found the net since the German head coach took over.
Midfielder Jorginho has scored two penalties in four games, Mason Mount has also bagged one from midfield while two defenders were on the scoresheet against Burnley in Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta.
Giroud has started two games for Tuchel and has been pretty ineffective in both, Abraham was hauled off at half time of the Burnley game while Timo Werner and Callum Hudson-Odoi played up front at Tottenham.
It’s arguably the only area that will be concerning Tuchel so far, his lack of output from his strikers. The rest of the side seems pretty settled.
Settle on a left back
No-one thought we’d be saying that when Marcos Alonso stormed off to the team bus at half time of Chelsea’s 3-3 draw with West Bromwich Albion back in September but, yet, here we are.
Alonso has started two of the four games Tuchel has overseen at left wing-back, with Ben Chilwell the other two. Chilwell wasn’t really being talked about much during the latter days of the Lampard reign but he wasn’t playing well and had no competition for his place.
No Alonso is back in the fold under Tuchel, he does. Alonso netted against Burnley on his comeback which he was always bound to do and kept his spot for the win at Spurs. Chilwell came off against Wolves in Tuchel’s first game and returned for the Sheffield United game.
He was lucky VAR spared him after giving away an early penalty at Bramall Lane and had a rather iffy game. His pass for Werner to set up Mount’s goal was clever but defensively he didn’t have the best game.
Perhaps playing almost every game of Chelsea’s season before Lampard departed has seen Chilwell fatigue and that could be a contributing factor. Tuchel has rested him in two games perhaps for that reason.
But now the head coach does need to settle on his left sided defence. Chilwell plays better in a four than Alonso, while Alonso plays better in a five than Chilwell. It’s a big problem for Tuchel to solve in the coming weeks.
79%, 72%, 58% and 69% – they are the positive amounts of possession that the Blues have enjoyed in all four games under Tuchel thus far.
However, all have followed a similar pattern with Chelsea dominating the ball but struggling to fashion any meaningful chances.
Mount has been trying his best playing as a number ten but outside of him, until Timo Werner turned on the afterburners twice against Sheffield United, there was a lot of walking but not enough talking.
The midfield duo of Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic can keep it simple but there lacks any real mobility in the middle of the park, leaving the onus very much on Mount to try it plus also get back to help defend.
One of the midfielder’s needs to be let loose to be a creative force, bringing N’Golo Kante back in can help that, or Tuchel needs to find a new tactic to get Chelsea creating more chances.
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