Chelsea moved into the top four with its fourth straight win under Thomas Tuchel. Overall, it was a nice win, but again, against a bottom half of the table side. Is all as it seems though? Maybe, maybe not. The good news is that the Blues have won four straight. Can this side stay in the top four though? That is the ultimate question for Tuchel’s side to answer.
Let’s start with the good and then what could be better. The most important fact is that the club is winning under Tuchel. That can in no way be looked upon as anything but a massive positive. There are a lot of games to go, but so far, so good.
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Other positives include another clean sheet, this time with Kepa Arrizabalaga in goal, no less. This should in no way be looked upon as anything but a company-man move by Tuchel; Arrizabalaga is not Chelsea’s top keeper. It was a big risk by Tuchel to start Arrizabalaga, a risk that fortunately worked out. Chelsea management must be thrilled since anything positive about Arrizabalaga may glean more cash when he’s finally sold, which means they’ll lose less money on perhaps the worst transfer by the club in recent memory. Any game that Arrizabalaga starts and doesn’t commit any major miscues enhances his value to the team when he is moved on. It’s just a positive financial move—that’s all.
Also, Tuchel has heavily relied upon more experienced players in his starting team. Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho and Cesar Azpilicueta are all starters now under Tuchel. Kovacic is alone amongst the three in his ability to dribble the ball forward and advance the attack. Regardless, none of the three are threats to either shoot on target or score. Absent Jorginho’s penalty skill, there is no scoring capability in that midfield whatsoever.
The Blues need to get goals from another player who should definitely be in the midfield, Mason Mount. Yet, he can rarely put a shot on target either—none of these players can find the net. This deficiency in midfield has to be rectified by the Blues in the summer. They need a true box-to-box midfielder who can not only dribble and pass, but also score a goal. A player who is a real threat to shoot and score and who has to be accounted for by defenses. When N’Golo Kante, who has been bench-relegated, came into the game against Newcastle, his ability to drive forward at least with pace was obvious. Kante can’t score either though. It’s a dilemma for Tuchel and the board, but it has to be rectified. A box-to-box midfielder who can do it all is an essential signing this summer. Numbers and depth are important, but quality is key.
Other negatives included the fact that Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic did not play. Getting these top attacking players untracked will be essential if Chelsea is to be anything more than just a high-priced, good team. These are top talents that need to start—or at least get meaningful minutes—but neither played at all. Tuchel is scraping by against bottom of the table clubs now, but he shouldn’t think that that is the secret to making the Blues a top club in the league. That will only happen when you have great players and you get your best playing their best football. Right now, some of his best players are not playing at all. Ultimately, if not rectified, that will cost the club games.
On the plus side, Timo Werner scored and helped set up another goal. He was the Man of the Match for the second game in a row. The German has had terrible luck, but finally caught a break against Newcastle. He’s making it clear to skeptics that he is an explosion of goals waiting to happen. He could have had three against the Magpies, but his unlucky streak continued early in the game. Werner’s ready for the breakout—watch for it.
Olivier Giroud—who was only on the pitch due to Tammy Abraham’s injury—did what he does best: scoring game-winning goals. They never seem to learn.
It was another win against a poor team, but to truly unlock the secret of this Blues team, Tuchel has to get his best players on the pitch and get them playing up to their capabilities. Otherwise, expect disappointment when Chelsea meets the top teams in Europe (including a very strong Atletico Madrid).