Wednesday afternoon is a momentous occasion for Chelsea fans around the world. After Frank Lampard spent 18 months in the Blues’ dugout, it’s now Thomas Tuchel’s turn to take a crack at conquering Stamford Bridge. He’ll flip the page and begin a new chapter in the club’s rich history as Chelsea welcomes Wolves to SW6. Tuchel’s introduction into the Premier League will by no means be an easy one as his squad faces one of the most disciplined sides in the country.
It’s customary for supporters to be overcome with a natural eagerness and curiosity ahead of a new manager’s first match in charge. There are a lot of questions surrounding who Tuchel will turn to in order to catapult the Blues into the top four, or even what tactics he will deploy. The German has built a reputation as a tactical genius and he’s as unpredictable as they come. Unfortunately, Tuchel’s debut starting XI as Chelsea manager will tell us very little about his future plans.
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Tuchel officially joined the club late Tuesday afternoon/early Tuesday evening. He signed his deal, held a meeting with his new team and got to work for a late training session just 24 hours prior to kickoff against Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves side. It goes without saying this quick turnaround has given Tuchel little-to-no time to instill his tactics and instead, he’ll take a conservative approach to the midweek match. Luckily, his gegenpressing style with a focus on ball retention has similar base principles to what the Blues have been doing up to this point.
Chelsea has lined up in either the 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 all season long, both of which have been used frequently by the Blues’ head man in the past. Lampard favored the 4-3-3 more recently and with N’Golo Kante’s status up in the air on Wednesday, it’s hard to see Tuchel electing to field two defensive midfielders. Instead, Chelsea will likely stick with in a 4-3-3 for the time being and wait for a bigger break in play or even until the summer to instill Tuchel’s preferred tactics.
What about personnel though?
It’s almost a guarantee—should they all be fit—that Christian Pulisic, Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Thiago Silva will start versus Wolves. Pulisic and Silva will play based on their familiarity with Tuchel’s style. Meanwhile, Werner and Havertz will be given the nod because the club brought the German manager in to get the best out of the high-priced summer acquisitions. However, aside from the aforementioned players, one shouldn’t put much stock in Tuchel’s team selection.
There has been a lot of chaos at Chelsea over the last few days and some people will unfortunately base their opinion of the new manager on who he selects for his first game in charge. It’s important to remember though that the 47-year-old hasn’t had much time to review his entire squad. Aside from the two players he’s managed before, the Germans, Jorginho and Antonio Rudiger—both of the latter were targets of his at Paris Saint-Germain—it’s unknown how familiar the manager is with his players.
Tuchel is going to rely heavily on Anthony Barry and Joe Edwards on Wednesday until he has a bit more time to assess his options. Therefore, let’s withhold our initial judgement on Tuchel’s tactics and selections for a little while. Taking over a club—especially one as messy as Chelsea—midseason is no easy task. Here’s to hoping the so-called mastermind can help right the tactical wrongs from the previous staff.
Who would you like to see take on a bigger role under Tuchel? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!