It has been a positive first few months of the Thomas Tuchel era at Chelsea. The German has guided his new team into the top four and has progressed in both cup competitions. The big improvements have been made at the back, with the defence conceding just two goals in 13 matches across all competitions. However, it has been far from perfect and the success in defence has cost them in attack. In the same period, Chelsea have scored 15 goals and they will need to improve on that if they are to challenge for major honours.
There has been a lot of rotation in forward positions, which may have prevented certain players from finding their stride under the new manager. Due to the demands on the squad, Tuchel will continue to shuffle his pack to ensure every players remains fresh, but he may have stumbled on his strongest attacking trio during Wednesday’s victory over Atletico Madrid. Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz all performed well. The trio were big money signings in the summer, but none of them have managed to replicate the form that convinced Chelsea to sign them.
One of the big reasons for Tuchel’s appointment was to get the best from his fellow countrymen Werner and Havertz. Neither have been mainstays of the starting eleven since the managerial change, but it was a major show of faith to start them in a crucial Champions League tie.
That said, it was Ziyech that was the star of the show against Atletico. He scored the crucial first goal on the night, but it was his overall performance that caught the eye. The Moroccan international had three shot attempts, made three key passes and completed three dribbles. He now has three goals and three assists across the two major competitions. Tuchel will be hoping that he can deliver this level of performance on a regular basis, as he has the creative ability to propel the attack forwards.
Werner was the one to get the assist for Ziyech’s goal and it displayed the danger that he poses on the counter attack. His devastating pace got him into the penalty area, before an intelligent pass laid on a chance that his team-mate couldn’t miss. The former RB Leipzig forward has contributed eight goals and seven assists across the two major competitions, but there remains a feeling that there is a lot more to come from him.
Since the appointment of Tuchel, Werner has accumulated 3.98 expected goals (xG) in the Premier League, which is the most of any player in the Chelsea squad. However, he has found the back of the net on only one occasion. He is too good of a player to continue struggling in front of goal. As he is the player best suited to getting into goal-scoring positions, he should retain his place in the team.
Havertz and Mason Mount are the other players that Tuchel seems to trust in the attacking positions. The former has started to show glimpses of his quality in the last three games. He has the physicality to perform well in England and he is slowly starting to build his confidence under the new manager. Against Leeds United, Chelsea didn’t score, but Havertz was a big threat and had four attempts on goal.
The upcoming matches against Sheffield United in the FA Cup, followed by league matches against West Brom, Crystal Palace and Brighton should give Chelsea a chance to express themselves in attack. Tuchel needs his attack to start functioning at a higher level if they are to push in and finish the season strongly. The next few weeks will tell us a lot more about this Chelsea attack under the new management.