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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.