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Is Thomas Tuchel still the right man to lead Chelsea?

Thomas Tuchel

Thomas Tuchel had the seemingly impossible task of managing Chelsea after the sacking of Frank Lampard.

Tuchel quickly settled into the role and introduced Chelsea fans to a back five and a possession-based form of football.

These changes bought positive results to the club, and the team began to climb the league toward the top four.

Tuchel’s brand of football seemingly suited the Champions League more than any other competition. He flexed his tactical muscles and masterminded a dominant two-leg success of La Liga champions Atletico.



Throughout the knockout phase, Tuchel showed tactical superiority over every manager in the competition, including Pep Guardiola in the final. While on the historic run to Porto, Chelsea showed inconsistency in the Premier League.

Supporters of the German manager could argue the Champions League was a legitimate excuse for the league inconsistencies. His detractors could say the Chelsea manager failed to show flexibility in his management.

The end of the season in the Premier League was forgetful for Chelsea as they scraped into the top four thanks to London rivals Tottenham Hotspur beating Leicester City.

Tuchel and his men cemented their place in Stamford Bridge folklore by winning the Champions League – defeating Manchester City thanks to a Kai Havertz goal.

The hopes for this season (2021-22) were high – Chelsea splashed £97 million on Romelu Lukaku.

Romelu Lukaku

As Chelsea approached the notoriously challenging Christmas period, Tuchel was riding high with Chelsea top of the league and through to the last 16 of the Champions League.

Chelsea fans were dreaming of more glory this season. Then Covid-19 decimated the Chelsea squad to the point where they could only name four subs at Molineaux against Wolves.

More dropped points against Everton and a defeat to Manchester City has left Chelsea looking nervously over their shoulder while Manchester City is seemingly cantering to another Premier League title.

The knives are now out for The Chelsea manager. Some Chelsea fans are looking at who could be coming in next. In addition to inconsistent results, Tuchel has had to contend with the Lukaku situation. Lukaku spoke fondly of his time at Inter while expressing he’s not 100% happy how his manager is utilising him.

Tuchel, according to many, handled the situation admirably by expressing publicly he felt Lukaku behaved disrespectfully towards the club and accused his star striker of making “unnecessary noise”.

Thomas Tuchel and Romelu Lukaku

Subsequently leaving, Lukaku on the bench led many to feel Tuchel had handled the situation well.

Roman Abramovich and the Chelsea board have proven they are not afraid to pull the trigger on a manager regardless of previous success. Speculation is rife that all is not well at Chelsea.

Looking at the performances on the pitch, it’s clear the team would benefit by having more continuity in the attacking part of the team, with Tuchel constantly rotating the Chelsea front three.

Another criticism aimed at the Chelsea manager is his supposed lack of flexibility in a tactical sense. When you look at the personnel Chelsea have in defence, they look a lot more solid with five at the back, and this has seemingly bought Rudiger’s performances to an all-time high.

However, Tuchel has gone to four at the back more recently, with Ziyech given a free role to roam in this system.

Hakim Ziyech

During Tuchels time at Chelsea, he has transformed our fortunes on the pitch. He has masterminded successes over the Madrid teams – and Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering Manchester City team.

He has bought a win at all costs mentality to this group of players. Having struggled in possession under Lampard, Chelsea has become a high performing possession-based team – who manipulate the ball so well and impose their qualities on the opposition.

The improvements in the performances on the pitch are largely down to Tuchel and his coaching staff. Chelsea is undoubtedly going through a period of inconsistency at this time. However, to suggest a change of manager is needed is reactionary. Tuchel deserves time to turn around Chelsea’s current form.

Is Levi Colwill the answer to Chelsea’s centre-half contract deadlock?

Chelsea Football Club enjoyed an excellent start to this season (2021-22) which has slowed down under the stress of injuries, Covid-19, and the contract shenanigans involving Antiono Rudiger and Andreas Christensen.

This article will concentrate on the contract negotiations of Rudiger and Christensen – and whether the long term solution to these two potentially leaving is already at the club.

Levi Colwill joined Chelsea, aged 9-years-old and has made impressive progress throughout his time at the much-lauded Cobham academy.

Levi Colwill

With Chelsea stacked in defence in terms of numbers at the beginning of this season, alongside the breakthrough of Trevoh Chalobah, Colwill decided to join Championship team Huddersfield on loan for the 2021-22 season.

The expiring contracts of Rudiger and Christensen have made Chelsea fans think long and hard about how the club will rebuild the defence following either or both of these players leaving in the summer.

Colwill is the player many Chelsea fans are campaigning for as the replacement for either Christensen or Rudiger. Levi is undoubtedly a prestigious talent, but could he save Chelsea a fortune in the transfer market.

Levi is a current England under 17 international who offers versatility for Chelsea across the defence. After progressing through the ranks of the Chelsea academy, he signed a new 4-year contract at Stamford Bridge before joining Huddersfield for his first taste of first-team football this season.

levi colwill

Many opposition fans of Huddersfield have waxed lyrical about the performances of the young defender.

He’s blessed, with exceptional positional ability, where he always seems to be in the right place for a block or a tackle – very much in the mould of Chelsea legend John Terry. In addition to his excellent positional play, Levi has proven adept at bringing the ball out from defence and beginning attacks.

He has shown an impressive array of passing, again in the mould of John Terry.

When younger players go from academy football to professional football, they can struggle with the physical nature of professional football.

Levi has adapted brilliantly, and due to his level temperament and exceptional reading of the game – he has adapted to the physical nature of Championship football.

Levi Colwill

In a recent interview with Yorkshire Live – Colwill opened up about life at Huddersfield, showing he is savouring every moment, whether positive or negative.

He said: “I’ve learnt a lot defensively, definitely so being stronger and always staying concentrated because it can be a split second where you turn off and goal, your heads in your hands and it’s annoying, it’s not a very nice feeling.”

Championship loans have proven to be successful for Chelsea youngsters in recent times – with Reece James and Trevoh Chalobah both showing how gaining experience in the Championship has enabled them both to become regulars under Thomas Tuchel.

Levi Colwill seems to be taking all praise in his stride. Hearing this young starlet talk about learning from bad experiences indicates he has the right attitude to reach the top. Whether both Rudiger and Christensen leave is to be seen, but with the emergence of Levi Colwill, the future of the Chelsea defence is a bright one.

Levi Colwill

Levi has shown this season he has all the attributes you want from a top-class defender. Andreas Christensen seems almost certain to depart Stamford Bridge this summer – and with the emergence of Levi Colwill, it will help soften the blow of his or any other defensive departures from Stamford Bridge this summer.

Thomas Tuchel’s experiment could lead to long term change for Kai Havertz

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 08: Kai Havertz of Chelsea celebrates their side's first goal which was an own goal scored by Ben Godfrey of Everton (not pictured) during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge on March 08, 2021 in London, England. PHOTO BY DARREN WALSH/CHELSEA FC VIA GETTY IMAGES.

Kai Havertz starred as a false-nine during Chelsea’s 2-0 victory over Everton in his best performance for the Blues since arriving for £72m.

Havertz has endured a difficult start to life in West London since his arrival from Bayer Leverkusen. Having suffered from a bout of coronavirus in the winter, Havertz has since been unable to find rhythm in his game.

Thomas Tuchel will hope that Havertz’ fine display against Everton will be a catalyst for the German star to consistently produce the form which commanded such a transfer fee.

False-nine role

Havertz’ reintroduction to the side came in a new role. Tuchel had explained that he saw Havertz as a false-nine in the weeks before and against Everton, this came to fruition. In a fluid front-three with Callum Hudson-Odoi and Timo Werner, Havertz was the central figure and exerted real influence on proceedings.

LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 08: Kai Havertz of Chelsea celebrates their side’s first goal which was an own goal scored by Ben Godfrey of Everton (not pictured) during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge on March 08, 2021 in London, England. PHOTO BY DARREN WALSH/CHELSEA FC VIA GETTY IMAGES.

Two shots, two successful duels, a 95% pass completion rate and two actions leading to goals exemplify how complete Havertz’ performance was. The German showed every facet of his game to trouble Everton at every turn.

Havertz provided an excellent link between defence and attack whilst also occupying Everton’s central defenders. His run in behind which led to Chelsea’s penalty exemplified how he performed like a true #9.

Meanwhile, his 95% pass completion was more like a midfielder. He linked play superbly and consistently brought the likes of Werner and Hudson-Odoi into the game.

A false-nine needs to act as both a penalty box threat and a link between midfield and attack. Havertz’ display here was exactly that.

LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 08: Kai Havertz and Mason Mount of Chelsea embrace after the Premier League match between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge on March 08, 2021 in London, England. PHOTO BY JOHN SIBLEY – POOL/GETTY IMAGES.

At Leverkusen, Havertz scored 16 goals in 2019/20, highlighting his ability in the box. With 8 assists in that time, the German star is clearly both scorer and provider. Tuchel looks like he could be the perfect coach to kickstart Havertz’ Chelsea career.

Going forward

Chelsea and Tuchel are blessed with a plethora of attacking options. Hudson-Odoi was extremely impressive against Everton. He had a major hand in the opening goal with an excellent piece of play from the left, very reminiscent of Eden Hazard.

Timo Werner’s pace and willingness to run in behind was noteworthy. Chelsea’s fluidity in attack was exceptional. This was without Mason Mount, another player excelling under Tuchel.

Mount played a similar role to that of Havertz in the 1-0 victory at Spurs. Frank Lampard was unable to find a system in which Mount and Havertz functioned together. Tuchel will hope and expect to find a solution for two of his young starlets to thrive in tandem.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – MARCH 04: Mason Mount of Chelsea celebrates with teammate Reece James after scoring his team’s first goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield on March 04, 2021 in Liverpool, England. PHOTO BY PHIL NOBLE – POOL/GETTY IMAGES.

Havertz’ performance in a false-nine role has given Tuchel another welcome selection dilemma. As Chelsea approach the business end of the season, Tuchel will be delighted that so many of his players are hitting their stride.

With the likes of Christian Pulisic, Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud all struggling for minutes, Chelsea’s competition for places in attacking areas is fierce.

Next game

At least four of Chelsea’s attackers are contributing positively. Havertz, Hudson-Odoi, Werner and Mount have all been eye-catching in recent performances. With only three attacking spots available in Tuchel’s 3-4-2-1 type system, the Chelsea boss has a few decisions to make.

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 28: Thomas Tuchel, Manager of Chelsea reacts during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on February 28, 2021 in London, England. PHOTO BY CHRIS LEE – CHELSEA FC/CHELSEA FC VIA GETTY IMAGES.

What cannot be denied, however, is that Kai Havertz has catapulted himself towards the front of the pecking order. There is little doubt that the German is precociously talented. With Hudson-Odoi at wing-back, a front-three of Mount, Werner and Havertz is an exciting blend and should be utilised by Thomas Tuchel away at Leeds.

If Havertz maintains his performance level and builds from the Everton win, he could be about to hit form at exactly the right time. Leeds could be about to run into a storm and Tuchel could continue his fine start.

Images: Chelsea’s 2021/22 Leaked Home Kit

Leaked image of the next Chelsea home kit. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: FOOTY HEADLINES

Footy Headlines have published some images that are believed to be Chelsea’s home kit for the 2021/22 season.

The Nike kit remains two shades of blue, this time forming an uneven zig-zag pattern down the strip. There is also the addition of yellow as a secondary colour, forming the side stripes, and the Nike logo.

The zoomed out, wide angle of the kit. Note the yellow down the sides. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: FOOTY HEADLINES

Yellow has been a part of Chelsea’s crest on and off since formation in 1905. It disappeared in 1964, when they reverted to blue and white, before adding red in 1967. The yellow came back briefly in the ’90s, however the current design re-introduced it as highlight and trim.

A dash of yellow is one thing. But the saturated look on the crest might be a bit too far. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: FOOTY HEADLINES

The crest in the above photo has a decidedly jaundice look to it, with the usual white surrounding the lion and text is taken over by a paler yellow. Although the wide shot shows the normal colouring. Hopefully that is what they go with.

Three returns as the front of shirt sponsor as they enter the second season of their three year contract.

With the emphasis on the yellow as a highlighting colour, would it be unreasonable to think a return to a yellow away kit is on the cards?

The last time Chelsea went with a yellow away strip. 2018/19. They finished third in the Premier League and won the Europa League. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: WE AIN’T GOT NO HISTORY

Footy Headlines themselves believe these to be very accurate images of what we can expect to see on field later in the year.

 

Can Chelsea win the Champions League?

BUCHAREST, ROMANIA - FEBRUARY 23: Olivier Giroud of Chelsea during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match between Atletico Madrid and Chelsea FC at National Arena on February 23, 2021 in Bucharest, Romania. PHOTO BY STEFAN CONSTANTIN/MB MEDIA/GETTY IMAGES.

Chelsea’s win in Bucharest against Atletico Madrid was their first victory in an away Champions League knockout game since 2012.

Nine years on from Chelsea’s historic Champions League triumph in Munich, the Blues will look to repeat that feat. Victory against Atletico gives them one foot in the quarterfinals.

Thomas Tuchel has galvanised a group which looked lost under Frank Lampard. His immediate impact was evident against the La Liga leaders. From a tactical and mental perspective, Tuchel’s Blues passed their toughest test yet and in convincing style.

Chelsea are halfway towards knocking out La Liga’s best side which begs the question, just how far can they go?

Domestic rivals

Two major obstacles towards any potential European triumph would be Manchester City and Liverpool. England’s best two sides over the last three seasons have had mixed fortunes in Europe however, both would present a major hurdle for this Chelsea side to overcome.

Runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City have got their mojo back, following a disappointing 2019/20 campaign. Pep Guardiola’s men are in formidable form domestically, winning their last 18 games ahead of a trip to Borussia Moenchengladbach. They are heavy favourites to beat the German outfit and make the quarterfinals.

Chelsea have lost once, a dismal 1-3 reverse that was the beginning of the end for Frank Lampard, against Manchester City this season while losing four of the last six meetings between the sides. Despite this, Manchester City’s lack of European pedigree points to a mental block in Europe. There’s a disparity in quality between Chelsea and Manchester City but the pressure would all be on Guardiola’s men were they to face-off in the Champions League.

Meanwhile, Liverpool’s European record is infamously formidable. Two finals, including a title, under Jurgen Klopp points to a team that knows how to get the job done in Europe. Their comfortable first-leg victory against RB Leipzig makes them heavy favourites to quality for the quarterfinals.

Despite poor recent form and injury concerns, Liverpool are likely to be a stronger opponent when the quarterfinals come round. Having met the Merseyside club in five successive seasons between 2004/05 and 2008/09, the clubs have history in the Champions League. Another chapter of that European rivalry would be a huge challenge but not as daunting as it could have been in previous seasons.

European threats

While domestic threats are valid, the glamour of winning the Champions League comes from beating the elite from the continent. Chelsea’s Champions League triumph in 2012 featured victories over Napoli, Benfica, Barcelona and Bayern Munich and this opposition provided the glamour as opposed to domestic opponents.

While Barcelona are unlikely to progress any further, Bayern Munich look formidable once again. A comfortable 4-1 win first leg win in Rome against Lazio all but secured their quarterfinal place. With Robert Lewandowski’s 30 goals already this season, the current holders possess a superstar. The holders look like a real force once again as they look to defend their crown. Elsewhere in Germany, Erling Haaland and Borussia Dortmund are dangerous in a single game. They have striking power to fear.

Speaking of young superstars, a certain Kylian Mbappe has his eyes on the big prize. Having fallen short last season, Paris Saint-Germain look to be saving their best for Europe this time around. Thomas Tuchel’s old side romped to a 4-1 victory in Barcelona with Mbappe the star. With Neymar to come back, the Parisians look dangerous. Chelsea would be underdogs were they to meet their old nemesis.

The rest

While Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain will represent the continent’s major threat, Spanish clubs look to be suffering a period of struggle. Barcelona, Sevilla and Atletico Madrid all suffered first-leg defeats which look difficult to overturn.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid do not have the same aura as in recent years. Eden Hazard has failed to replace Cristiano Ronaldo thus the attack has fallen almost solely on Karim Benzema. An ageing midfield of Toni Kroos and Luka Modric is experienced but lacks in energy and running power. Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane are not as reliable as they have been in defence. Scraping through the group evidences Real Madrid’s lack of authority under Zinedine Zidane.

Real Madrid face Atalanta, a side whom Tuchel knows well having scraped past them in 2019/20 with PSG. Gasperini’s men represent a unique proposition. However, Chelsea would be favourites against them while Real Madrid should not be feared. Chelsea should also face no fear of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus. While Ronaldo’s superstar qualities can turn a tie on its own, Andrea Pirlo’s side are malfunctioning and must overturn a first leg deficit against Porto.

Prospects

As it stands, Chelsea are not one of the big favourites to win the competition. However, Tuchel’s arrival heightens the Chelsea Champions League hopes. Of all the remaining sides left in the competition, Chelsea should not any of them, with the exceptions of the outstanding Manchester City.

Bayern Munich and Liverpool are formidable but not as strong as in previous seasons. Paris Saint-Germain would be difficult opponents but Tuchel’s inside knowledge of their squad could be advantageous.

The rest of Europe’s elite, the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus, are suffering. Chelsea’s resurgence in form under Tuchel should give them a sense of cautious optimism.

Chelsea’s Champions League chances are decent. In a competition which can turn on a moment of magic or a slice of luck, to be in the quarterfinals is a chance of glory. Nine years after defying the odds in 2012, Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea are looking to repeat the feat. Tuesday’s victory in Bucharest over Atletico Madrid should provide a catalyst for a real shot at success.

Olivier Giroud Unsung For Too Long

The striker has enjoyed somewhat of a resurgence of late. But he has always been good. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: THE GUARDIAN

Olivier Giroud stood up big time against Atletico Madrid, netting the only goal of the match in the 68th minute. But this is not the first time we’ve seen Giroud play a pivotal role. And it’s about time it gets recognised.

Remember Montpellier?

The 2011-12 Ligue 1 season was super competitive at the top. It was Paris Saint Germain’s first season under its Qatari ownership. The list of top goal scorers included future stars, in Eden Hazard, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bafétimbi Gomis, but was topped by PSG’s set piece artist Nenê and a 24 year-old Giroud with 21 goals each.

Giroud’s Montpellier would hang on to the lead to win their first – and to date only – Ligue 1 title by 3 points over PSG. It was this season that earned Giroud his move to the Premier League with Arsenal.

Fresh faced Olivier Giroud back when he played for Montpellier.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: BOX TO BOX FOOTBALL

Arsenal used to be quite good. During Giroud’s stint there between the 2012-13 and 2017-18 seasons, Arsenal finished Premier League runners up in 2015-16, third in 2014-15 and never outside the top 6. There were three FA Cup titles and three FA Community Shields.

Giroud himself won the FIFA Puskas Award for goal of the year in 2017 for a scorpion kick volley in a win against Crystal Palace.

However, Giroud’s biggest act came in 2018.

World Cup Winner

The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. France would go on to win with a superb attacking squad. Leading the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Paul Pogba up front was Giroud.

While he lined up as the centre forward, Didier Deschamps had other plans for him. Giroud played all seven games – starting six – yet didn’t score a goal. Giroud’s presence and positioning opened up the space for Mbappe and Griezmann who netted four goals each.

One could be critical of Giroud’s lack of goals at the World Cup, but he played every match and they won. He has the winners medal and played a crucial role in the team’s success.

The starting striker of a World Cup winning side. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: BLEACHER REPORT

Chelsea Resurgence

After joining Chelsea from Arsenal in the 2018 January window as an experienced back up to Alvaro Morata, Giroud’s scoring numbers remained consistent. Coming into the 2020-21 season, there were clubs circling for his signature. However, Frank Lampard and now Thomas Tuchel have entrusted Giroud with leading the line in key moments.

Chelsea’s squad was supposed to be potent in attack this season, with German striker Timo Werner as the star piece. While Werner has struggled to really get going, Giroud and Tammy Abraham have been able to hit the score sheet. Giroud in some clutch moments.

There was the four goals against Sevilla, the point salvage against Aston Villa, the opener away to  Newcastle, and most recently the winner against Atletico. Continually stepping up in the big moments.

Croatian star flourishing under new boss

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 22: Mateo Kovacic of Chelsea celebrates after his sides victory in the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge on February 22, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (PHOTO BY CLIVE HOWES - CHELSEA FC/CHELSEA FC VIA GETTY IMAGES)

Thomas Tuchel’s appointment as Chelsea’s new boss has been a blessing to Mateo Kovacic. The Croatian star was often out of favour under Frank Lampard however, Tuchel’s arrival at Stamford Bridge has seen Kovacic establish himself as a key player.

Kovacic has often split opinion amongst Chelsea supporters. Despite exceptional technical qualities, his lack of goal contributions leave many questioning his worth. Additionally, he is not a traditional defensive midfielder and so many ask what Kovacic actually does.

Tuchel’s immediate impact at Chelsea has been evident. Chelsea’s Croatian star has been the most improved player in the five league games since the German took charge. What has Tuchel done to maximise Kovacic’s quality? How does Kovacic move to the next level in his performance?

System change – playing in a two-man midfield

Where Lampard’s 4-3-3 highlighted Kovacic’s inadequacies, Tuchel’s switch to a two-man pivot in midfield suits the Croatian. Neither an advanced #8 as Lampard used, nor a #6 in the mould of N’Golo Kante, Kovacic was a square peg in a round hole for Lampard’s preferred system.

VALENCIA, SPAIN – NOVEMBER 27: Mateo Kovacic of Chelsea celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal during the UEFA Champions League group H match between Valencia CF and Chelsea FC at Estadio Mestalla on November 27, 2019 in Valencia, Spain. (PHOTO BY MANUEL QUEIMADELOS ALONSO/GETTY IMAGES)

Kovacic’s best work under Lampard came in the winter months of 2018/19, where he played in a midfield two alongside Jorginho. This has been replicated under Tuchel. With less emphasis on goal contribution from midfield, the £40m man’s key skills are more prominent.

Alongside Jorginho, the technically astute pairing have been able to control the game with efficient use of the ball. Against Newcastle, both players had a pass completion of over 90% whilst having over 100 touches.

Kovacic, in particular, was phenomenal against Steve Bruce’s side. Eight dribbles and two key passes, along with three dribbles, highlight a midfield display containing multiple facets. The Croatian star controlled midfield and allowed Chelsea to assert their dominance in the game.

Playing alongside Jorginho, a more positional player, in a two-man midfield setup, allows Kovacic to roam, dribble and link defence and attack. With five more attack-minded players in the team, there is less emphasis on Kovacic to deliver goals or assists. This system has, so far, masked his weaknesses and enabled his ball retention and industry to prosper.

What next for Kovacic?

The Croatian star has been excellent so far under Tuchel. He is playing the best football of his Chelsea career.

However, adding an extra creative element would take Kovacic to another level in Tuchel’s midfield. Whether that be with penetrative passes through the lines, or out-and-out through balls, Kovacic would benefit from executing riskier passes.

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 18: Mateo Kovacic of Chelsea in action during the FA Cup Fifth Round match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on February 18, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (PHOTO BY MIKE HEWITT/GETTY IMAGES)

One goal in 82 Premier League appearances is a poor return for a midfield player who has often been tasked with supporting the attack. For a player of his pedigree and quality, Kovacic needs to add final-third product to consolidate himself as an elite midfielder, since he isn’t a specialist defensive midfielder.

Perfect in a two-man midfield, the Croatian star needs to become more adaptable and improve his skills to become an adept three-man midfielder. While Tuchel is tactically adept and will maximise strengths, adding an extra string to his bow will make Kovacic an exceptional player rather than a useful one within the right setup. In the five league games since Tuchel took charge, Kovacic has mustered eight shots with zero goals, highlighting a clear area for improvement in his game.

What next for Chelsea’s midfield?

With Jorginho and Kovacic impressing, N’Golo Kante faces an uphill battle to regain his place in the starting XI. Only Sheffield United, with heavy pressing, have nullified the impact of Jorginho and Kovacic thus far since Tuchel took charge.

Chelsea’s upcoming fixture list is much more challenging than that of recent weeks. Against teams of higher technical quality and more attacking intent, the “Jovacic” midfield axis is likely to be tested to their physical limit. While there are no doubts about their technical qualities, their physical and defensive capabilities are yet to be tested in Tuchel’s three-at-the-back system.

With more difficult fixtures to come, Mateo Kovacic is likely to be an important player for Chelsea. His experience in big European matches needs to come to the fore. Chelsea’s Player of the Year in 2019/20 has experienced important games throughout his career. He is likely to be a player that Thomas Tuchel relies upon.

What cannot be argued, however, is that Chelsea’s Croatian star is flourishing under his new coach. If he can replicate his current form for the rest of the season, Chelsea will control football matches. He has been terrific in the last six weeks and fans and player alike will be desperate for this to continue. If it does, then the questions surrounding Kovacic’s functionality and worth will disappear very quickly.

John Terry: “Future Chelsea and England Captain”

Mason Mount captains his boyhood club in the FA Cup clash against Luton Town. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: TWITTER @masonmount_10

Chelsea legend John Terry has stated that he believes Mason Mount has what it takes to become a permanent captain of the club.

When Mason Mount captained the side in the 3-1 win over Luton, he became the youngest Chelsea man to wear the armband since a 21 year-old Terry in 2001. With César Azpilicueta, Jorginho and Thiago Silva all out of the side, Frank Lampard turned to Mount.

Lampard was a big believer in Mount’s abilities, using him prominently at Chelsea and at Derby. Since Lampard’s departure, Tuchel has continued the faith in the 22 year-old midfielder. The German starting Mount in three of the four Premier League matches he has managed.

So far this season, Mount has started 20 of a possible 23 Premier League games, has scored three goals and has three assists.

As a playmaker, Mount has been one of the league’s best this season. He averages 2.5 key passes per game, behind only Jack Grealish, Kevin de Bruyne and Bruno Fernandes.

A playmaker that can lead from the front. At 22, Mount’s best is still to come. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: THE GUARDIAN.

For the national team, Mount has strong positional competition from the likes of Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish, Leicester’s James Maddison and Manchester City’s Phil Foden. Though in 2020, Mount got the nod from Gareth Southgate more often than the other three.

Captain Mount

On a live stream on Terry’s Instagram, the former Chelsea captain spoke highly of the young England midfielder.

Mount has shown in his 16 years at the club how much he loves it there and has continued to get better as a player and clubman. Azpilicueta is the current captain, and should remain so until he leaves the club. However, having a young player come through the academy to be in line for the role is a very good sign for Chelsea.

The impact of Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 07: Thomas Tuchel, Manager of Chelsea looks on following the Premier League match between Sheffield United and Chelsea at Bramall Lane on February 07, 2021 in Sheffield, England. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY CLIVE MASON/GETT IMAGES.

After just four matches, the impact of Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea cannot be understated. Just one freak goal conceded, ten points and a victory over a Big Six rival marks an impressive start for the German.

Tuchel was under immediate pressure following the unpopular departure of Frank Lampard. While some felt Lampard had reached breaking point, many felt that he deserved time to recover from a poor run. In any case, the furore around Lampard’s departure meant one thing for Tuchel. He had to start well to avoid vultures circling.

Fast forward two weeks and the charismatic former boss of Paris Saint-Germain has impressed. Here, we look at the main ways in which the impact of Thomas Tuchel has had on Chelsea’s immediate and longer-term ambitions.

The impact of Thomas Tuchel was evident at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
The impact of Thomas Tuchel was evident at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as he outclassed Jose Mourinho in the tactical department as Chelsea won 1-0. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY SKY SPORTS.

System

Tuchel has quickly implemented an interesting and very fluid system of play. With a focus on possession and dominating the ball, Chelsea look to have a distinctive structure when building attacks.

With a back-three in place and a midfield pair of Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic to maintain defensive structure, Chelsea have attacked with five players, resembling a 3-2-4-1 in possession that reverts to 5-4-1 in the defensive phase. Tuchel has taken a liking Jorginho and Kovacic for the control they can provide in possession and the front-five forms from that axis.

Of course, there are variations and tweaks in every game but establishing, in essence, two blocks of five, Tuchel has set out his structural idea and implemented it quickly.

Against Tottenham, for instance, Tuchel altered the positions of his three most advanced players. Mason Mount played in a false-nine type role with Timo Werner and Callum Hudson-Odoi playing as inside forwards, reminiscent of the positions Liverpool’s much lauded front-three take.

Mount was outstanding in the win over Tottenham, completing three key passes with a 91% overall success rate in his passing. Tuchel’s tweaks in shape have paid off, largely due to a consistent general structure of play.

The impact of Thomas Tuchel and his appointment hasn't affected Mason Mount
Thomas Tuchel and Mason Mount embrace following Chelsea’s 1-0 victory over Tottenham on 4th February 2021. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY CLIVE ROSE/GETTY IMAGES.

The structure of Tuchel’s team is more impressive considering the limited training time he has had. Playing four matches at high intensity in 12 days, the new Coach has had limited time on the training pitch. However, the cohesive structure of the attacking play has been evident. It’s highly impressive that Tuchel has implemented this so quickly.

Marcos Alonso

The impact of Thomas Tuchel hasn’t been limited to systems of play. Many players have enjoyed a resurgence of form since the German’s arrival. Tuchel has given all of his squad a clean slate and so far, most players have responded to the task of impressing their new boss.

Marcos Alonso has been a major beneficiary of Tuchel’s appointment. Alonso’s performance against Burnley was superb, notching a goal, two shots and three clearances in his familiar wing-back role. The Spaniard is a specialist at wing-back. Tuchel is utilising the 30-year-old’s unique skillset after he’d fallen out of favour with Frank Lampard.

Marcos Alonso is an excellent example of the impact of Thomas Tuchel
Marcos Alonso scoring his first goal of the season during Chelsea’s 2-0 victory over Burnley at Stamford Bridge on 31st January 2021. ALL RIGHTS RESERVE BY SKY SPORTS.

Callum Hudson-Odoi

Meanwhile, Tuchel has taken a liking to Callum Hudson-Odoi. The young Englishman never managed to win the complete trust of Frank Lampard. However, Tuchel appears to be very keen to maximise the youngster’s incredible potential.

After many had called for Lampard to give Hudson-Odoi more minutes, it’s refreshing to see Tuchel do exactly that. Hudson-Odoi’s position against Wolves and Burnley was, on paper, as a wing-back but in practice, a right-winger whom all of Chelsea’s best play went through. Four key passes and four crosses, as well as an assist, highlighted Hudson-Odoi’s contribution against Burnley.

Against Tottenham, he was used in a split-striker role on the right and caused Spurs multiple problems with intelligent movement. While he faded in the second half, it was an impressively mature display from the youngster. Tuchel clearly trusts the talent of Hudson-Odoi. The development of the England international is one to keep an eye on ahead of the European Championships.

The impact of Thomas Tuchel has been felt by Hudson-Odoi as much as anyone
Thomas Tuchel gives Callum Hudson-Odoi instructions from the touchline. Tuchel has taken a liking to the young Englishman and sees him as an integral part of the team he is looking to build. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY THE DAILY MAIL.

Conclusion

Clearly, it is early days in Tuchel’s time at Chelsea. However, after inheriting a squad lacking in coaching and structure, the impact of Thomas Tuchel has been impressive. Every player has started with a clean slate and most have impressed the new boss already.

Timo Werner, outstanding against Sheffield United with an assist and penalty won and terrific movement, epitomises the improvement in the side. Implementing a structure and selecting players in roles which suit them, Tuchel has been able to get results while players get used to his methods.

With the likes of Mount continuing to flourish, Hudson-Odoi and Reece James impressing, any fears about Tuchel stunting the development of young players have been alleviated instantly. Mount and Hudson-Odoi already look to be at the forefront of Tuchel’s mind.

The impact of Thomas Tuchel has been incredible, even after just two weeks. With a tough schedule on the horizon, the German will know that there is plenty of work to do. However, fighting in three competitions gives Chelsea an opportunity to rotate, improve and fight for a trophy. All-in-all, Chelsea fans should be excited about Thomas Tuchel.

Chelsea Go 32 Undefeated in FA WSL

Chelsea’s womens’ team set a new record for not losing a match in 32 league games when they defeated Aston Villa 4-0. They then backed it up with another 4-0 win over Tottenham to make it 33. The win takes them to the top of the table, level on 32 points with Manchester United but with a game in hand.

This achievement becomes even more impressive when you take into account the improvement in the standard across the league, the influx of foreign talent, and the effects of Covid and postponements.

In December, we did a mid-season review of the players. But there is much more to the success of the squad.

The Manager

Emma Hayes joined Chelsea in 2012 and has since led them to three FA WSL titles, two FA Cups and a League Cup. Though last season – and into this season – is where the team has really come together. The last time Chelsea lost a league match was on the 29th of January, 2019. Something to be said about having patience with a manager.

As well this season, Chelsea have been competing in the UEFA Women’s Champions League. Their last matchup was an 8-0 aggregate win against Benfica. The draw for their Round of 16 opponents will take place on February 16.

The 44 year-old’s achievements at Chelsea have not gone unnoticed. EFL League One club AFC Wimbledon were reportedly interested in making Hayes the first ever woman to manage a professional, English men’s team. Hayes however turned the role down, electing to stay with Chelsea.

Depth

Chelsea have a deep squad. The back four is settled, with Maren Mjelde, Magdalena Eriksson, Millie Bright and Jonna Andersson forming an almost permanent line. But the midfield and up front have been rotated, and rotated well.

Melanie Leupolz has been a mainstay in the middle, with Sophie Ingle, Ji So-Yun, Erin Cuthbert and Jessie Fleming all sharing minutes alongside the German.

In attack, Australian Sam Kerr has led the line from the start nine times out of 12 matches. And Fran Kirby has been back to her best out wide. Aside from those two, Hayes has been able to turn to Pernille Harder, Beth England, Guro Reiten and Niamh Charles.

Even in the unlikely and unfortunate event that there is no Leupolz and Kerr, there is still plenty of quality in the squad.

Match Consistency

The matches keep coming. Perhaps this could be considered a challenge, but it has certainly benefitted Chelsea. Between the FA WSL, the Continental Cup and the UEFA Womens Champions League Chelsea have played 18 matches since the start of the season in September. There is also the Vitality Women’s FA Cup coming up, which Chelsea will join in from the 4th round.

This consistent stream of matches allows the squad to develop together and really show of their strengths in depth and energy.

With 10 FA WSL matches left to play this season, it will be a major task to go undefeated again. But last season proved it was possible.