Chelsea hit rock bottom on the morning of January 25 when it was announced club legend Frank Lampard was relieved of his duties as the club’s manager. The Blues sat mid-table after dropping yet another disappointing league game to Leicester a few days prior and all hope looked lost. Thomas Tuchel’s appointment split the fanbase, with many not even willing to give the German a chance because of the man he replaced. However, it’s safe to say Tuchel has won fans over at this point in time.
Chelsea is now nearing two months unbeaten, having not lost a match in any competition since that forgettable performance at the King Power Stadium on January 19. There have been disappointing results under Tuchel’s guidance—notably the draw with a struggling Southampton side—but the tactical teacher has yet to taste defeat as the manager of the Blues. Chelsea currently sits in the top four and although that’s been the goal all along, it must not let up now.
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Many supporters were quick to reserve judgement on the German due to the easy run of fixtures he had to begin his tenure in west London. We’re beginning to see what his side is made of though after impressive outings against Tottenham, Atletico Madrid and now Liverpool—all resulting in wins. He’s also managed to avoid dropping all three points against Manchester United, which is by no means a bad result in the grand scheme of things.
There was reason to celebrate after a fantastic 90 minutes at Anfield on Thursday night. The Blues outplayed Jurgen Klopp’s defending champions on their own turf and were inches—or a bogus VAR decision, you decide—away from escaping with a 2-0 victory. All of that being said, the job is not done yet. The ultimate goal is for Chelsea to make the top four. The Blues are just four points off second place and three points behind third, but there are teams on their tail, as well. Four teams—Everton, West Ham, Liverpool and Tottenham—are within five points of Chelsea in fourth.
The victories over Liverpool and Atletico Madrid are the two single most important results of the campaign, especially given the tough run of fixtures the Blues are in the middle of right now. The toughest tests are behind Chelsea, that doesn’t mean it can let up though. The intensity from Thursday’s match at Anfield must be met at Stamford Bridge on Monday in another huge clash with Everton. Carlo Ancelotti’s side is looking to do the double over the Blues, but a loss for the home side would mean being jumped by the Merseyside club, who also has a game in hand on them.
The light at the end of the tunnel is visible after the recent performances, but there’s still a long way to go. Following the game against Everton, Chelsea returns to Elland Road for the first time since 2012. Leeds may not pose the same threat the likes of Man United, Liverpool and Atletico do, that doesn’t mean Marcelo Bielsa’s side will simply roll over; quite the opposite actually. The match is going to be a fight from start to finish, and if the Blues don’t come prepared, they may just be played off the pitch.
The road from there in the Premier League gets easier, but it truly concludes after two important tournament matches. Chelsea hosts Atletico in the second leg of the Champions League Round of 16 tie in what is sure to be an instant classic. Following that, an FA Cup quarterfinal against Sheffield United sends the Blues into a much needed international break.
Complacency cannot be tolerated around Cobham for the remainder of the season. Tuchel must do all he can to keep his side focused on the task at hand and not allow the players to dwell on past results. The Blues have worked incredibly hard—too hard to throw it all away now. If Chelsea keeps the focus, top four, an FA Cup title and a deep UCL run are all still in play.
Where do you think the Blues will finish in all remaining competitions? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!