Chelsea have fallen out of the title race in recent weeks. Following on from their Champions League victory last season, there was hope that the Blues could emerge as serious contenders for the Premier League title. However, their inconsistency in recent weeks, coupled with Manchester City’s incredible form means that they will have to wait at least another 12 months to regain the league title. Thomas Tuchel has been a very good appointment and the form over the last year has been very impressive. However, doubts have started to creep in about his ability to adapt and win matches when the performances on the pitch drop.
The Blues are now 12 points behind the league leaders Manchester City and they have played one fewer than the current champions. Tuchel won’t want his players to throw in the towel, but he will realise that there is no chance that they will be able to over turn that deficit. During their last 13 matches in the league, Chelsea have won just four of them. It is a very poor run of form for a club with their high standards.
It is worth stating that they haven’t lost many games. In fact, they have only lost four matches across all competitions this season. They remain in the three cup competitions and Tuchel will be hopeful that they can add to their trophy cabinet before May. The issue has been in attack, as the German coach has struggled to find a consistent selection for the forward positions. It was hoped that Romelu Lukaku would emerge as the main goal scorer in the squad, but his form has been mixed. Off the pitch, his open interview with Sky Italia caused an unwelcome distraction in recent weeks. Many believed he would take the team to a new level, but as yet, he hasn’t lived up to the billing.
Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech all have talent. However, none of them have emerged as a key player for Tuchel. They have all had good performances at Stamford Bridge, but none have done enough to be a regular starter. Timo Werner has continued to struggle in front of goal. It speaks volumes that these four players have just eight Premier League goals combined.
There has been one crumb of comfort in attack for Tuchel. Mason Mount is taking his game to a new level this season. In the league, he has contributed seven goals and five assists, leading the way in both metrics. He has taken one of the attacking positions in the team, but the issue has been finding the right combination of players to start alongside the English international.
Against Brighton, Tuchel experimented with the line up and fielded a 4-2-2-2 formation. It was a move away from his traditional 3-4-2-1 formation and there were some pleasing aspects to the performance. However, it is very new for the squad and it will take time to build the right chemistry in both halves of the pitch.
It is likely that Tuchel made this change due to the defensive injuries he is currently dealing with. However, it may be smart to build understanding of different systems during the rest of the league season. This should make the players more adaptable and give the team options when things aren’t going their way on the pitch. A lack of a plan b has been damaging during this run of four wins in 13 Premier League matches.
If Chelsea are to emerge as title contenders next season, they need more fluidity and threat in their attack. They need to be able to kill matches off and win when they aren’t at their fluid best. The talent is there. The next few months will be fascinating and show us a lot about the club’s direction under Tuchel.