A win is a win is a win, so they say, but the win over Burnley for Chelsea earned a necessary three points. But when is a win not as positive as it seems? Chelsea is still not firing on most of its cylinders. How can a positive such as the 2-0 win against Burnley be questioned? That’s easy. Burnley is currently 16th in the Premier League table, and that is as far as this win goes.
Earlier in the season, Chelsea went on a 17-game unbeaten streak against the lower echelons of the table. They beat almost no club in the top half and almost no team of any consequence in the Premier League. Euphoria reigned but that aspect of the “streak” was questioned in a previous article. Now, let’s see if the rising euphoria among the Chelsea faithful once again goes ballistic before the club beats any side of real consequence. The answer won’t be long in coming. On Thursday, against a tough Spurs team on Spurs’ home turf, Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea will face Jose Mourinho’s Spurs and we will get a glimpse, early one, of what the rest of the season may have in store for the Blues as they face one of the best in the Premier League.
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea did well against the bottom half of the table but flopped against the best. If the Blues have any hope of achieving that vaunted fourth spot or above to earn Champions League qualification, they have to beat these top teams, and often. The Spurs game, though just a short time (about a week) into Thomas Tuchel’s tenure, will be the first indication of how this new Chelsea squad will measure up against one of the league’s finest. While it will be unfair to judge based solely on this early tilt, the season is in its second half and every game, no matter when the manager entered the scene, is critical. This game against Spurs, for certain, is critical. Chelsea needs the three points and anything less will be a disappointment. It’s an early signature game for Tuchel. Can he sign his name to a winning scoresheet? We’ll see.
Questions can certainly be asked about Tuchel’s team selection in the game against Burnley. He affixed two lackluster offensive players in midfield and was fortunate that a little-used player, Marcos Alonso, and an almost totally ineffective offensive player, Cesar Azpilicueta uncharacteristically scored to bring home the win for the Blues. Depending on such players to bring Chelsea to a top-four finish is ultimately doomed to failure. The key factor at issue here and now with Chelsea is the ability or inability of Tuchel to get the forwards firing on all cylinders, literal meaning, scoring goals of which they have done precious little, especially on the wing.
Tuchel’s ability to get his forwards scoring will determine the success of the rest of the season. If they get untracked, Chelsea could very well soar to Champions League qualification. If they remain as they are, in their season-long funk, they won’t. It’s as simple as that. And it’s on the Blues’ wings where the responsibility lies. It is clear, Chelsea has no one who can score with any consistency whatsoever from midfield. So when the wings are equally deficient, there stands little if any chance of beating the better, let alone the best teams in the Premier League.
This is Tuchel’s ultimate challenge, a win with goals from Alonso and Azpilicueta notwithstanding. Can he get the forwards firing on all cylinders? If he can, this side will soar. If not, it’s middle of the table time for Chelsea.