Those who lamented the decision to sack Frank Lampard said all he needed was time. Thomas Tuchel only needed a day to make a difference in Chelsea’s style of play.
Six weeks after his appointment he has them back in the Premier League’s top four and looks like the best bet to compete with Manchester City in the long run.
Beating Liverpool at Anfield may not be the feat it once was, but it was an extremely Chelsea controlled performance and a deserved victory. Mason Mount’s excellent goal in the first half had come. The equalizer never really looked like it was.
“Liverpool created very little in the 90 minutes,” Jamie Carragher said on the co-commentary for Sky Sports. Back in the studio, Ashley Cole was also impressed. “One of the best performances I’ve seen from Chelsea in terms of backstroke.”
Tuchel himself was delighted.
“We had to be brave if we wanted to escape the pressure and we did it in an excellent way. We were strong in our transition game, we were strong in defending and winning the second balls and the counter-pressing. . It was a very, very good team performance. “
It was a key game to deliver him as Liverpool could have passed Chelsea with a win. Everton and West Ham still can if they win their matches in hand. Based on this evidence, Chelsea can chase those above them rather than worrying about those below.
There was never any question of denying the quality within this dearly constituted team. As a result, it’s tempting to see Timo Werner wreaking havoc with Liverpool’s high line or N’Golo Kante stifling danger in midfield to suggest this revival was inevitable.
But Chelsea had lacked direction, having lost five of their previous eight Premier League games when Tuchel arrived. They were tenth in the table halfway through the season when he stepped out at Stamford Bridge for his first game at the helm.
The transformation has been remarkable.
This team was looking for its own style, a distinctive identity. It came instantly when Chelsea broke their Premier League passing record in those opening 45 minutes against Wolves. New training was introduced and has remained – also providing much needed clarity.
The team’s defensive issues were resolved with force. Not only are Chelsea undefeated in their eight Premier League appearances under Tuchel – 10 in all competitions – but they have only conceded twice during that time. Suddenly they look rock solid from the back.
A reminder that this record has been maintained despite the injury defeat of Chelsea’s most experienced defender – and perhaps the player Tuchel has known best since his time at Paris Saint-Germain – to Thiago Silva. They barely skipped a beat.
Andreas Christensen, a player many dismissed as not good enough to pull off a Chelsea shirt, has been a revelation in recent matches. After completing his 73 assists against Manchester United this weekend, he was even better against Liverpool.
The Dane’s calm distribution was important in helping Chelsea maintain their passing game even when it was difficult. Liverpool are renowned for their ability to gain possession in the final third of the pitch, but haven’t been able to create any real pressure.
While the defensive platform has been established, the attacking pattern might take a little longer to perfect – there’s more to come from this Chelsea side in the final third when they move freely.
But fears that Mount’s progress will be stifled by Lampard’s exit, heightened when Tuchel omitted him from his early training, are already proving to be unfounded. Indeed, there are already reasons to believe that by playing in these pockets, its development will continue.
Werner didn’t get his goal at Anfield but he came close and fans will appreciate the logic of his selection, even Jurgen Klopp noting that his compatriot had been included to expose Liverpool’s high line. Perhaps Olivier Giroud will return to the starting lineup when Chelsea need to break a deeper defense.
It makes sense.
Everything is starting to make sense now and that’s to Tuchel’s credit. The decision to turn to him has already been confirmed.
It makes a difference.
When asked how he did it so quickly, he preferred to focus on the efforts of those on the ground.
“I don’t know but I feel a lot of this club, in fact, from the first moment. We put a lot of effort and try to help. When the team shows their quality, it’s a game of players. “
It quickly became clear that these players were clamoring for a coach like Thomas Tuchel.