Chelsea is preparing to take on Barnsley for the second time this season, this time in the fifth round of the FA Cup. The Blues hosted the Tykes back in September with the home side drubbing its visitors by a score of 6-0. Tammy Abraham opened the scoring on the day before Kai Havertz burst onto the scene with a hat-trick. Even Ross Barkley and Olivier Giroud got onto the scoresheet in the Carabao Cup tie.
This time is destined to be much different though. Chelsea was in extremely poor form the last time the two met, but the Blues come into this clash on an unbeaten run. New manager Thomas Tuchel has his side playing clean, dominating football at the moment and the scoreline could prove to be even worse the second time around for Barnsley, only time will tell.
Here are three things to look for in the contest:
1. Firing forwards
If there’s one unique aspect about Tuchel’s time in charge at Stamford Bridge thus far, it’s the goalscoring. The Blues have scored some incredible goals recently, all of which have come from different positions. They’re scoring from all over the pitch, except where goals matter most—up front. Marcos Alonso, Jorginho and even Cesar Azpilicueta have all gotten on the scoresheet since the last time a forward netted a goal.
Tammy Abraham was the last Chelsea striker to score, earning a hat-trick on January 24 against Luton. Other than Abraham, Timo Werner has only scored once (Morecambe) since his last league goal against Sheffield United on November 7. Further, Olivier Giroud’s last goal came before the turn of the New Year against Aston Villa. To call it a positional struggle would be a massive understatement with none of the three internationally-capped strikers in form.
Tuchel needs to get his forwards firing sooner rather than later, or else the Blues could be in trouble. Chelsea is getting goals from everywhere right now, but when those goals begin to dry up, it cannot continue to rely on midfielders and defenders to score every match. The Barnsley game represents the perfect opportunity for the German manager to deploy his forwards with the sole purpose of getting them back on the scoresheet. Confidence can often times be everything to a No. 9. Werner put in an excellent shift against Sheffield United, but on the other hand, Abraham hasn’t seen any time on the pitch since his early exit against Burnley. Regardless of who Tuchel gives the nod to, the strikers need to get scoring—quickly.