This may seem a little harsh, but in a way, Timo Werner’s performance against Southampton rather summed up Chelsea’s form in the Premier League this season—good, not great. Yes, the German striker netted twice against Saints with the first particularly reminiscent of goals once scored by a certain Belgian magician in blue. However, Werner also missed three glorious chances to further add to his tally for the match. It is this lack of ruthlessness that has characterised this Chelsea side at crucial junctures this season, greatly hindering the team’s ability to challenge for its first league title in five seasons.
Under the watchful eye of Thomas Tuchel, the Blues have been referred to by many as a “cup team” that ideally no one wants to play against. The underlying notion behind this reluctance to face Chelsea in a one-off, winner-takes-all game is simple. The Blues, after all, are the Champions of Europe and the World for good reason. On their day, Tuchel’s men can be more than a handful for any other football side on the planet.
Chelsea needs to move past the label of being solely a cup team in recent years
However, what this notion ignores is the fact that this Chelsea side is simultaneously capable of complete capitulations when things do not go its way. This was the case against Brentford and Real Madrid recently. Furthermore, this was also the case during the Blues’ torrid run of form during the festive period this year and last.
Watching Chelsea smash six goals past a helpless Southampton defence, this writer cannot help but question—albeit a little cynically—why a similar level of hunger was not on show in the team’s last two contests. Why is it that the likes of Marcos Alonso, Andreas Christensen and Ruben Loftus-Cheek can turn in such horrid performances just days before utterly dismantling Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Saints?
Yes, every team has a poor run of form every now and then. Chelsea has also been blighted by injuries and COVID-related absentees at various time this season. However, when considering the blistering pace that Manchester City and Liverpool are setting at the top of the table, it is undeniable that the Blues simply do not possess similar levels of concentration that can be sustained across a 38-game season. Tuchel promised to be on the “hunt” this season for the Premier League title. Yet, with just eight matches left to play in the league this season, Chelsea once again finds itself 11 points off the pace.
There comes a point in time when being a team capable of spectacular cup runs is no longer sufficient for a club the size of Chelsea. This is a team with a proud history of successful producing Premier League champions. Yet, the current run of five seasons without a league title represents the longest period of time that the Blues have gone without being crowned Champions of England since the beginning of the Premier League era. In a brutally competitive league that punishes nothing short of perfection week in and week out, Tuchel and Chelsea still have work to do should they desire a return to the summit of English football next season.
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