Chelsea Column: what can we expect from the Blues in 2022?
In these articles, I tend to look back on the past month and comment. However, as December was an awful to month to witness as a Chelsea fan, I thought I will skip it and look ahead to what I want to see in 2022.
There is a lot to talk about in terms of where the club is at the moment as well as where it looks like it might be going.
So, with the blinded optimism that the new year brings, let’s look into 2022 and what the new year could bring for Chelsea football club.
We need to talk about Lukaku
The last couple of weeks have been a strange one with the club and most of it refers to an interview Romelu Lukaku’s interview with Sky Italy.
I’m sure you’ll be aware what was said, and in any circumstance, a player speaking out against the manager within 5 months of joining is never a good sign.
It came at a terrible time as well. There has been a lot of pressure on Tuchel over the last couple of the months, but the last thing we needed was a coup in the dressing room.
Lukaku hasn’t been good enough this season and couple that with injuries and Covid, he’s not had much playing time. He can’t blame that on Tuchel and his system, because when I watch Lukaku, he doesn’t get involved enough.
Also, with the injuries and Covid-positive players, Tuchel has been forced to try new things and he is only going to choose those players that have been doing the best out on the pitch and that isn’t Lukaku.
Granted, Lukaku did get a goal on his return to the team against Villa but watching him against Spurs was uninspiring and I don’t think he would have made a difference against Liverpool.
I hope these “clear the air talks” with Tuchel does mean we will see a better Lukaku and that it can be a morale boost to the entire team.
I don’t want to see Tuchel sacked because a player who got too big for his boots decided he was the big dog at Chelsea because he was their most expensive signing and wanted to manager sacked because he wasn’t happy.
It’s January, who’s in and out?
I don’t expect any Chelsea players to leave this January, but there are still a few futures to decide upon over the next month.
Antonio Rudiger, Cesar Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen are all out of contract at the end of the season and seem to be looking for the door.
Rudiger has already made up his mind and it looks as though he will be going to Real Madrid in the Summer as a free agent. Chelsea have been trying to get him to sign a new contract for months, but it’s clear from both sides that the wage demands will not be met.
As for Azpilicueta, it would appear that Barcelona may be the destination for the Spaniard. I have faith that Chelsea will try more proactively to keep him at the club. He is the club captain and given how versatile he is at the back, we need him.
Finally, Andreas Christensen. Let’s face it, he is a good player, but realistically no club better than Chelsea are going to want him. I feel as though he has seen the Rudiger situation and wanted to cash in on a bigger contract.
This does leave a big defensive problem at Chelsea if these three do decide to leave. It means our only centre backs are an aging Thiago Silva, and a young paring of Trevor Chalobah and Malang Sarr.
This leaves Chelsea with two options. Bend to the wage demands or spend big now or in January to get the likes of Matthias De Ligt and Joules Kounde into the club.
But there is one thing that Chelsea need to do immediately.
We desperately need a left back or left wing-back. Watching Marcos Alonso is like having acid in your eyes. His lack of defensive work-rate is painful to watch.
Lucas Digne has become available from Everton, but I think there may be some better options out there. None come to mind, but I’m sure they’re there.
What can Chelsea achieve this season?
I think it’s pretty clear that the optimism I had a few months ago about Chelsea’s chances of winning the Premier League have now gone.
It’s firmly in City’s hands as it stands, and I don’t think anything Liverpool or Chelsea do will change that.
So now it’s time to see what Chelsea can still achieve and realistically win this season.
Chelsea got a favourable draw against Lille in the Champions League which is winnable for Chelsea. I would love another run in the Champions League and getting through this round will be crucial.
Chelsea are still in both domestic cups (this is written before the Chesterfield game in the FA Cup so hopefully I don’t have to swallow my words here).
After a 2-0 first leg win over Tottenham in the Carabao Cup, Chelsea look in a strong place to get to their first Caraboa Cup since 2019. Once Covid is battled with the Liverpool squad, we will see who Chelsea’s opponent could be between them and Arsenal.
A trophy will be crucial for Tuchel if he wants to be in a job for next season at Chelsea. Unfortunately, winning the Champions League isn’t going to be enough if Chelsea don’t win anything this season.
You only have to look at the likes of Roberto Di Matteo or Antonio Conte as managers who got sacked not long after great success at Chelsea.
All I want is top four and a trophy. It may not sound like much coming from the reigning European Champions, but given that the league is out of reach, I will take what I can get at this point.
Given the strength of this squad, a domestic trophy is well within reach. A good run in the Champions League shouldn’t be difficult with this squad.