Thomas Tuchel arrived at Stamford Bridge as a figure who divided opinion, and that was no different when he was appointed as the successor to club legend Frank Lampard. Arguments over parting ways with the Englishman too soon were justified, particularly with the former midfielder having played an instrumental role in the development of the club’s academy players.
However, the decision of the Chelsea board in January has paid off in a fashion that perhaps even they could not have envisaged. The Blues have been transformed from a team who were in a battle to secure European football into a side who deserve their crown as the best on the continent.
Tuchel has required just 50 matches to improve Chelsea’s fortunes, and there is a strengthening feeling that he is only just getting started. The West Londoners have returned from the latest international break in clinical form, following a 3-0 triumph at Leicester City with the 4-0 dissection of Juventus in the Champions League.
At a time when Tuchel and his squad will be focusing their attention on the Premier League fixture with Manchester United at the weekend, Sports Mole takes a look at Tuchel’s current 11-month stint in the capital.
How long is a piece of string? Upon his arrival, Tuchel was tasked with securing Champions League football for 2021-22. A piece of silverware was regarded as an achievable bonus, but the reality is that not even their Champions League success in May is responsible for defining Tuchel’s time at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea were a methodical juggernaut during that run, conceding just two goals during knockout ties against Atletico Madrid, Porto and Real Madrid. It was a similar story in the final as they withstood the attacking swagger of Manchester City, Kai Havertz‘s first-half goal ultimately proving to be the difference at Estadio do Dragao.
Despite possessing the tag of European champions, Tuchel will argue that he has gained more satisfaction from the development of his squad. Starting his reign with a 14-match unbeaten streak set the tone, and it immediately created a healthy competition for places with several players being brought in from the cold.
As far as individual results go, the 1-0 victory at Liverpool in March and 2-1 comeback win at Man City two months later stand out. When all was said and done, those performances made the difference when it came to securing a top-four spot in the Premier League, freeing up Chelsea to play without any added pressure in the Champions League final.
Tuchel will also be especially proud of pushing the club’s academy graduates to new levels. Reece James and Mason Mount are the obvious standouts, but Trevoh Chalobah, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek could have taken a significantly different path had it not been for the guidance of the German tactician.
There was a time towards the end of last season when Tuchel had so much to gain and so much to lose as he bid to earn a longer contract. Winning the Champions League ultimately proved decisive, but it gets forgotten that Chelsea lost three out of their four games before that famous night in their history.
The Blues went down 1-0 at home to city rivals Arsenal, a defeat which was followed by a losing effort in the FA Cup final three days later. Chelsea had been favourites to see off Leicester City, but a Youri Tielemans wonder-strike left Chelsea to collect runners-up medals for the second year in a row.
On the final day of the domestic season, Aston Villa overcame Chelsea by a 2-1 scoreline in the West Midlands, the visitors having to rely on late goals from Tottenham Hotspur against Leicester to book their place in the Champions League.
West Bromwich Albion’s 5-2 win on April 3 was little more than a freak result, a combination of an early kickoff after an international break and Thiago Silva‘s 29th-minute red card aiding the Baggies’ cause.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment of Tuchel’s reign was the back-to-back 1-0 defeats to Man City and Juventus earlier this season. Chelsea were ineffective against City and lacking urgency with the ball in Turin four days later.
Tuchel has recorded a total of 32 wins and 11 draws from his 50 matches in the Chelsea dugout. Neither number particularly stands out, but losing just seven times under constant scrutiny and having come up against high-level opposition on a regular basis is hugely impressive.
Chelsea are averaging just 1.62 goals per game under Tuchel, a ratio improved by their recent goal glut, but a remarkable 31 clean sheets have been kept in all competitions.
Just 24 goals have been conceded, five of which came in the West Brom capitulation. It means that Chelsea have conceded just twice in a game on one occasion under Tuchel. All things considered, is there a more eye-catching statistic in world football right now?
Of Chelsea’s seven defeats, three have come at Stamford Bridge, with a further two occurring at neutral venues versus Porto and Leicester. In 20 games on the road, they have posted 14 wins and four draws, the only two away defeats coming at Villa and Juventus.
Chelsea have netted 81 times with Mount the top goalscorer under Tuchel with just nine strikes. As many as 22 different players have found the back of the net, with often-criticised Timo Werner having the most goal contributions with 16 from 35 appearances (six goals, 10 assists).
In terms of appearances, just six players have featured in 80% or more of Tuchel’s games, James the leader with 43 appearances. Tuchel has used 30 players in total, the least minutes being given to Tino Anjorin who made one substitute outing versus Barnsley last season.