The international break serves as a nice pitstop for supporters to stop and reflect on what has been a successful introduction to English football for Thomas Tuchel thus far. It has been two months since the German took charge of Chelsea and if asked to describe his time in charge up to this point, many would make note of his unbeaten record.
Frank Lampard’s sacking was always bound to divide the fanbase, with many Blues fans questioning the revolving door that is Roman Abramovich’s managerial process. Others have hailed it as the right decision for where Chelsea wants and needs to be. Tuchel came into a desirable position on the pitch with quality players littered across the squad. However, an undesirable position off the pitch, where fans and pundits questioned whether he could really produce the results needed for the Blues to succeed.
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Lampard left Chelsea with a Champions League tie against the No. 1 team in Spain—Atletico Madrid— on the horizon, an FA Cup fifth round fixture against Barnsley on the schedule and sitting mid-table in the Premier League. Fast forward two months. The Blues dispatched Atletico convincingly, and will now face Porto in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. Along with that, they also have an FA Cup semifinal on the horizon against Manchester City and now sit in fourth in the league. Tuchel has helped put Chelsea’s 2021/22 Champions League destiny in its own hands.
The Blues certainly have not lit up the attacking half of the pitch, but their defensive solidity has been key to the success they have enjoyed. Tuchel must be credited with this improvement. A switch to a back three that won the league under Antonio Conte has seen many return to form. To say the least, Chelsea’s play can be summarised as defensive solidity combined with offensive efficiency.
In the 14 games prior to Tuchel’s arrival, the Blues managed five clean sheets, ultimately conceding a grand total of 15 goals across those games. In the 14 games since Tuchel’s arrival, Chelsea has kept 12 clean sheets, conceding just two goals in all competitions—one being an own goal. This is a drastic improvement from the previous regime and is a testament to Tuchel’s ability to organise a team that does not concede goals, whilst still maintaining attacking intent.
One only has to look at some advanced stats to further highlight the impact Tuchel has had on this Chelsea side. Under Lampard, the xGA (expected goals against) was 1.11 and the xPoints (expected points) was 1.83. Under Tuchel, the xGA is 0.53, whilst the xPoints is 2.26. This is a drastic contrast between the two coaches and quite clearly explains the defensive mishaps that have been cleaned up under new management.
Specific individuals—like Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, N’Golo Kante and Cesar Azpilicueta—have seen an upturn in form since Tuchel arrived in west London. These are players who underperformed for most of the season under Lampard and are now showing that they can be integral parts of the squad for years to come.
There are most certainly still some who may be skeptical about Chelsea’s upturn in form, accrediting the ‘manager bounce’ as the reason for their recent success. However, Tuchel seems to be the manager that the Blues have been waiting for. The 47-year-old has displayed the pragmatism, tactical flexibility, consistency and desire for youth success that supporters have been desiring. He’s also exhibited blends of his predecessors—Maurizio Sarri, Conte and Lampard.
Tuchel will want his Chelsea side to score more goals, as it is still yet to score more than two goals in any of the matches that he has taken charge of. However, he and the Blues faithful will be excited by early signs that this team has shown so far.
What do you make of the job Tuchel has done thus far? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!