Talking Tactics

Chelsea embracing Tuchel's style of play

By Adrian Clarke 2 Feb 2021
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Adrian Clarke explains how the German has steadied his new side ahead of Thursday's London derby

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Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points in Matchweek 22.

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Based on his first two matches in charge, Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea will try to dominate Tottenham Hotspur with controlled possession this Thursday.

In a new 3-4-2-1 formation, Chelsea stifled Wolverhampton Wanderers and Burnley by dominating the ball.

It helped to ease pressure on their defence and meant Chelsea faced just five shots over the course of those 180 minutes.

Neither opponent registered a single shot on target at Stamford Bridge.

Passing comparison under Tuchel & Lampard
2020/21 Tuchel average Lampard average
Successful passes 729.5 529
Successful passes in opp. half 455.5 428.6

Spurs prefer to play on the counter under Jose Mourinho, so Chelsea may feel they have had an ideal warm-up for this London derby.

The pattern of the match could follow a similar theme, with Spurs putting men behind the ball while Tuchel’s side attempt to wear them down.

If Chelsea can build upon the improved cohesion they displayed in the 2-0 win against Burnley, it could be a difficult evening for the hosts.

Wide play

Callum Hudson-Odoi has impressed under Tuchel in a new right wing-back role.

He created four chances against Burnley, including an assist for Cesar Azpilicueta to score the opener. He also made 12 crosses from open play across the two matches.

On the other flank, Marcos Alonso was also outstanding, scoring the second goal.

Chelsea v Burnley highlights

One noticeable change from that match saw midfielder Mateo Kovacic pick out both wing-backs with better distribution. 

Too often taking the safe option, just 3.9 per cent of his 152 passes in the goalless draw with Wolves were classified as long.

As a consequence, Chelsea did not stretch the visitors well enough.

In a clear tactical change Kovacic‘s long pass ratio increased to 15 per cent against Burnley.

Switching play earlier to Alonso (15 passes) and Hudson-Odoi (nine), this allowed both players to receive the ball in extra space.

Chelsea’s wide forwards also helped, by consistently dragging their markers infield too.

With Reece James and Ben Chilwell alternative options to occupy these roles, it will be interesting to see who starts at Spurs.

Restoring confidence

One of the priorities high on Tuchel’s to-do list will be for his side to develop a greater cutting edge.

Chelsea attempted a total of 35 shots in his first two matches in charge, but scored just twice.

This will come as little surprise, with a number of talented attackers in the side lacking confidence.

Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulsiic have all missed plenty of chances in recent weeks, while Kai Havertz has also struggled. 

Shots since last goals
Timo Werner 24
Hakim Ziyech 18
Christian Pulisic 13
Kai Havertz 8
Mason Mount 7
Olivier Giroud 6
Tammy Abraham 3

Over time, Tuchel’s experience should help to develop a more fluent side that creates better chances for their forwards.

Once that confidence grows, Chelsea's attacking threat will do too.

While it is still early days, Chelsea are already embracing Tuchel's theories and a positive result at Spurs can go a long way to showcasing what lies ahead.

Also in this series

Part 1: Versatile Dallas key to Leeds' fluidity against Everton

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