Chelsea Column: Unbeaten run shrouds Tuchel’s problems
You might think that there is nothing that I could possibly complain about after Chelsea went unbeaten throughout February. While it has been a very good month under Tuchel, there are still some nagging issues that could hamper Chelsea’s progress for the rest of the season.
What has Tuchel done right so far?
I have to give credit where credit is due, Tuchel has done a good job so far. The football may not be the most exciting, however it has seen us go unbeaten in 10 games.
Chelsea’s defensive unit has been pretty solid, considering we’ve been without Thiago Silva for quite a few games. Chelsea were able to keep 5 clean sheets in February and honestly it feels like we have prime Jose Mourinho back in charge.
It’s this defensive resilience which saw Chelsea get a crucial away win against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League. While the odd mistake has led to a goal here and there, it’s nice to see Chelsea not conceding goal after goal every week.
What has Tuchel gotten wrong so far?
In one word; Goals.
The lack of goals is starting to become a real issue. When Chelsea attack it’s so frustrating with the amount of quality in our attack and midfield that we can’t score more goals.
Timo Werner did get a goal against Newcastle, but we shouldn’t be celebrating a £40 million striker getting his first goal in eight games. It’s not good enough.
With Abraham out injured, Giroud has had to fill in the void and does a very good job of it, but Giroud is a target man and we don’t create enough good chances for him. While his goal against Atletico was stupendous, we were very fortunate that it was an Atletico player who played the ball to him.
Most of the goals we scored this month have come from penalties. It’s like we’re turning into Manchester United. Both Jorginho and Mount have converted from the spot this month.
Jorginho scored decisive penalties against Spurs and Sheffield United, which saw Chelsea take 3 points from both games. Mount’s penalty against Southampton was enough to see us take a single point from the Saints.
The issue of scoring goals really raised it’s head during our most recent game against Manchester United. At no point did it look like Chelsea had a chance of getting a goal. The defensive display was solid as usual, but yet again, going forward was sloppy and rarely challenged the United defence.
Is the defensive mentality costing Chelsea goals?
Without a doubt.
The new system sees three at the back with two holding midfield as well as the two wing backs. That’s a lot of players committed to holding onto the ball and not really pushing forward.
This is putting a lot of pressure on the three attacking players to create all the chances. In the United game, Ziyech was lost and didn’t stamp any authority on the game. Most of the chances were coming through Mount and Giroud. This is not a great system for scoring goals.
Occasionally Chilwell and Reece James would push forward, but often they often wouldn’t push higher that the holding midfielders of Kante and Kovacic.
The system really needs to allow Chelsea to be more creative and push further up the pitch. Tuchel is known for his possession football and it’s proven to work. However, at PSG he had Kylian Mbappe and Neymar to carry the attack as they are incredibly creative. We don’t have that at Chelsea.
Werner is able to create chances, but his end product is often disappointing. Ziyech can do it also, but only when he is on top form. Mount can also do it, but he needs to the support of the players around him.
His link up with Hudson-Odoi has been great since Tuchel has come in. Hudson-Odoi really needs to be considered more in the starting XI.
Something does need to change because it’s starting to get boring.
Is March a make-or-break month for top 4?
After finding ourselves back into the top 4, Chelsea have slipped back into 5th place. Liverpool are mounting a big threat behind and so are Everton. West Ham are just above us in 4th, but it’s going to take a lot of fight to get into the top 4 and stay there.
Our next game is against Liverpool and it is imperative that we win. A win over Liverpool could see our campaign for top 4 really take off. With Leicester likely to start slipping with their injury issues, Tuchel needs to make sure Chelsea are there to take advantage.
After that, we face Everton and that’s going to be equally as difficult.
If we are able to come out with 6 points from these games then there is no doubt in my mind that Chelsea can really challenge for top 4. However, if we don’t, it’s going to be very tough. We’ll have to hope that we can get through in the Champions League.
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