Since his appointment, both Chelsea and Thomas Tuchel have thrived. The Blues have enjoyed a great resurgence of form.
The beginning of their campaign this season was quite the farce. Frank Lampard had spent an approximate £222 million in the summer – only for their results on the pitch to regress. Financially and practically, it was unforgivable.
The Chelsea board agreed, and the Stamford Bridge legend was unceremoniously sacked on January 25, 2021. Their season looked to be in tatters, until Tuchel took the reins. Since then, Chelsea have only lost two out of 24 games in all competitions.
Adopting a new approach, it has so far paid dividends and gets the best out of Chelsea’s squad. However, can the Blues continue their great form into next season? If so, how far will it get them?
First, let’s take a look at how Tuchel has been lining up his Chelsea side.
Chelsea and Thomas Tuchel: A Glimpse Into the Future
The Chelsea System Under Tuchel
Currently, Tuchel has Chelsea playing a pliable 3-4-3 formation. This consists of Mateo Kovacic and N’golo Kante playing centrally, with a combination of Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech or Christian Pulisic as attacking midfielders accompanying the striker. However, Jorginho can be used as a deep-lying playmaker if needed.
Out of possession, one of the full backs can drop into the back three to create a back four if necessary. Likewise, one can also push up to give Chelsea a numerical advantage going forward. Both Ben Chilwell and Reece James are very comfortable in their opponent’s half.
Off the ball, Chelsea give their opposition little room to breathe. Every player in the team is a hard worker and they all contribute to the press. They often force their opponents into mistakes, allowing Kante, Kovacic or Jorginho to regain possession.
Direct passing against Chelsea often doesn’t work either, as their wide centre-halves are quick on the turn, commanded by the mercurial Thiago Silva. Silva struggled at the beginning of the season, but has slotted into the middle of the back three very comfortably. His experience to Chelsea’s defence is invaluable.
How the front three operate is interesting. Normally, the central striker would be the focal point, but Timo Werner’s confidence is currently extremely low. He often doesn’t drive on goal, instead making intelligent runs between players to create gaps for Mount and Havertz.
The conversation of Werner’s contribution to Chelsea is a contentious one. His finishing this season has been appalling. However, his pace, work ethic and underrated passing ability still make him a nuisance for defenders to deal with.
The key strength of Tuchel’s Chelsea is their adaptability. With subtle changes, either before or during the game, they can alter their approach to suit a variety of opposition.
The Strength of Their Opposition
Currently, there is one team preventing Chelsea from winning the league next year – Manchester City. Since Sheikh Mansour’s takeover of the club in 2008, they have been rapidly transforming into the juggernaut we see today.
With a vast well of resources to improve their already eye-watering squad in the summer, it’s difficult to look past them them as favourites.
The impending Champions League final between Chelsea and City may be a useful indicator of things to come, but it shouldn’t be looked into too much. It’s only one game, after all.
While City remain the number one threat, it would be foolish to overlook Liverpool. After a campaign dashed by injuries and misfortune, Jurgen Klopp’s Reds will be back with a vengeance next season.
It’s easy to forget how dominant Liverpool were in 2019/20. With a fully fit squad, they’re still a force to be reckoned with.
Manchester United have been much improved in the second half of this season, along with Chelsea. They are perhaps two or three big signings away from being genuine title contenders.
Following the departure of Ed Woodward, whose ventures into the transfer market were much maligned, their fortunes may turn. It often seems United sign players without having a concrete plan for them.
This goes without mentioning other potential threats such as Arsenal, Spurs or Everton. All three of these clubs have had unsatisfactory campaigns and will be looking to improve on this season’s failures.
Possible Movements in the Transfer Window
A legendary finisher, Aguero could provide that clinical edge going forward that Chelsea are sometimes lacking.
The Argentinian will leave Manchester City in the summer, with numerous clubs clamouring for his signature. He’d be a great backup to Werner, especially as Tammy Abraham seems set to leave Stamford Bridge this year.
Aguero would be fantastic option off the bench, even in the twilight of his career. He’s also a very intelligent player and would add valuable experience to Chelsea’s attacking ranks.
Despite this, the real headliner-grabber would be if Chelsea could acquire the services of Marquinhos. A ball-playing centre back with great pace and defensive anticipation, he could be the player to take Chelsea up a level. Tuchel has managed him before, at Paris Saint-Germain, and he knows how to get the best out of him.
If Chelsea’s squad has a discernible weakness, it’s in their defence. Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen are solid options, but they’re not elite centre-halves.
Marquinhos’ passing and technical ability are both world class. He can play long, diagonal balls to attacking runners, or keep composed and lay off shorter passes to midfielders. While not the most physically imposing defender in the world, his ability on the ball more than makes up for it. He would take Chelsea and Thomas Tuchel to a new level.
Where Will Chelsea and Tuchel Finish Next Season?
As of this moment, Chelsea are the second-best team in the Premier League, regardless of what the table says. Their squad depth, manager and first team quality are all phenomenal- making Thomas Tuchel and Chelsea some threat.
While it’s not inconceivable for them to win the league next year, it’s unlikely. Barring another slow start from Manchester City, the Citizens look set to dominate for some time.
But with Tuchel’s pedigree and the players already at his disposal, anything less than top four next season would be a massive disappointment. Chelsea may not spend much in the transfer market, given how expensive their last summer was, but they may not need to.
It would be nice to see some more of Chelsea’s homegrown talent getting a chance next year. Fikayo Tomori was unfairly shunted out on loan, while James and Mount have been two of Chelsea’s most consistent players. Why not give him a run in the first team, assuming he wants to stay? He looked solid in 2019/20.
Ultimately, not accounting for any unforeseen circumstances, Chelsea are likely to finish second or third next season. Right now, they’re Manchester City’s biggest threat, but will need a season or two to surpass them.
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