EPL

A year of Tuchel: How has the German fared at Chelsea so far?

By Sports Desk January 21, 2022

When Thomas Tuchel arrived at Chelsea in January 2021, there were some raised eyebrows and curiosity as to whether the German could succeed where his predecessor, club legend Frank Lampard, had arguably failed.

It did not take long for Tuchel to do as another German coach had done on arrival in England and turn doubters into believers, leading the Blues to a top four finish (just), an FA Cup final and a Champions League triumph.

However, with the 48-year-old set to celebrate a year in charge at Stamford Bridge next week, he is experiencing perhaps his first rocky period in England, having won just one of his last seven Premier League games and sitting 12 points behind leaders Manchester City having played a game more.

Before Tuchel blows out the candles on his anniversary cake, Stats Perform has taken a look at his first year at Chelsea to try and figure out how much of a success it has been, and where things may go from here.

Welcome to the Premier League


In appointing Tuchel, who had been out of work since leaving Paris Saint Germain a month prior, Chelsea may have been trying to capture the lightning in a bottle that rivals Liverpool had when hiring Jurgen Klopp a few years earlier.

Tuchel's journey to England was eerily similar to Klopp's, aside from a stop in France, with an unremarkable playing career eventually leading to a management opportunity at Bundesliga outfit Mainz, via Augsburg's second team, and then on to Borussia Dortmund.

It was almost an impossible job to follow 'Kloppo' at Signal Iduna Park but Tuchel did well enough to catch the eye of PSG, where he won two league titles, two domestic cups and reached the 2020 Champions League final, before being sacked after a poor start to the Ligue 1 season.

He even began life in the Premier League with a 0-0 draw in his first game against Wolves, just as Klopp did against Tottenham, but from there you could see the shoots of improvement fairly rapidly, winning his next four and conceding only one goal.

In fact, Chelsea conceded just twice in Tuchel's 10-game unbeaten start in the Premier League, before a barely believable 5-2 home defeat to ultimately relegated West Brom.

They recovered to win five of their last eight league games, although a 2-1 defeat at Aston Villa on the last day of the season meant they were reliant on Tottenham for a favour, with Spurs duly obliging as they beat Leicester.

A promising start to the 2021-22 season saw the Blues lead the way, winning eight of their first 10 games, only dropping points to title rivals Liverpool and Manchester City.

However, since a 2-1 win at Watford at the start of December that even Mason Mount admitted was "one of our worst [performances] so far with the manager", Chelsea's form has plummeted, winning just two of their nine league games since, which has seen them fall well behind City.

The 1-1 draw at Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday was Tuchel's 42nd league game since arriving, with his record standing at 23 wins, 13 draws and six defeats.

When compared to previous Chelsea managers in the Premier League era who have also reached 42 league games, some of Tuchel's numbers are surprisingly lacklustre.

His win percentage of 55 is well below that of Jose Mourinho (79), Antonio Conte (79) and Carlo Ancelotti (74), and only Lampard (52) had a worse win percentage at this stage of managers who arrived at the club after Roman Abramovich took ownership in 2003.

He has lost the same number of games as Conte and Ancelotti (six), but no Chelsea manager in the Premier League era has drawn more than Tuchel's 13 after 42 games.

Goals scored has been an issue as only the teams of Glenn Hoddle (49) and Gianluca Vialli (63) scored fewer goals in their first 42 games in charge, but he has clearly tightened things up at the back with only Mourinho (15) conceding fewer than Tuchel's 31 goals against.

That said, only Pep Guardiola (2.48) and Klopp (2.00) can boast a superior points per game records in the Premier League since Tuchel (1.95) arrived, so you could argue that form is merely relative to the standard of competition.

Pressing matters

Under Lampard in the first half of the 2020-21 season, Chelsea ranked 13th in the league for high turnovers, but in the second half after Tuchel had arrived, they moved up to eighth.

So far this season for the same metric they sit fifth, behind only Liverpool, City, Brighton and Southampton, so while it has not necessarily become their defined tactic, their pressing has improved markedly under Tuchel.

The emergence of Reece James and Ben Chilwell also allowed Tuchel to utilise his favoured three at the back system, and to good effect as he has managed to get an impressive amount of goal involvements out of his wing backs.

Before their respective injuries earlier this season, James managed five goals and seven assists in 52 appearances under the German on the right, while Chilwell got five goals and three assists in 32 appearances from the left. Marcos Alonso has six goal involvements (G3 A3) from 41 games.

In terms of the Premier League, no defenders have scored more than James or Chilwell (four), which is particularly impressive for the latter as he has played just 17 times in the league under Tuchel, while only Liverpool duo Trent Alexander-Arnold (107) and Andrew Robertson (58) as well as Manchester United's Luke Shaw (73) have created more chances than James (54).

One night in Porto

Say what you will about Roman Abramovich's penchant for sacking managers, last year marked the second time he has installed a new one part-way through a season and ended up with a Champions League trophy in his cabinet.

Tuchel followed in the footsteps of Roberto Di Matteo in 2012 by only having to navigate the knockout stages, impressively getting past Atletico Madrid, Porto and Real Madrid before a tactical masterclass saw them overcome Manchester City 1-0 in the final.

It is no wonder that optimism was so high heading into this season, despite a disappointing 1-0 loss to Leicester City in the FA Cup final, and it seemed reasonable to think there was only one more piece to add to the puzzle.

The Lukaku conundrum

The reason many were tipping Chelsea to push Manchester City all the way in the Premier League this season was mostly based on the balance that Tuchel had in his team.

An exceptional goalkeeper in Edouard Mendy, an experienced backline including Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger, almost every kind of central midfielder a coach could dream of with Jorginho, N'Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Mount among others to choose from, while a young and promising attacking line including Callum Hudson-Odoi, Christian Pulisic, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz was supplemented by £97m man Romelu Lukaku.

Where were the weaknesses? Well in a twist that very few saw coming, it was in the returning Belgian.

In fairness to Lukaku, who was brought back to Stamford Bridge after registering 30 goals and 11 assists in 44 games in all competitions last year for Inter, he started well enough as he bagged four goals in his first four games back, while also getting three in two for his country during the season's first international break.

However, things have gone downhill since then, with Lukaku going 10 games without a goal between September and December and scoring just four goals in his last 19 appearances for the Blues, one of which was in the 5-1 FA Cup third round win against non-league Chesterfield.

It is not just the lack of goals, though. Lukaku's style of play seems entirely unsuited to what Tuchel is trying to achieve.

He thrived at Inter playing in a partnership with Lautaro Martinez, but does not look anything like the same player in Tuchel's system that uses one central striker, something that Lukaku himself acknowledged in a recent interview when he indicated frustration at the manager's use of him. 

Manager and player seemed to bury the hatchet, only for Tuchel to lambast Lukaku again after his showing in the 1-0 defeat to Manchester City that all but ended their hopes of the title.

"[Lukaku] had many ball losses without any pressure, many ball losses in very promising circumstances. He had a huge chance," the Blues boss said after the game.

"We want to serve him, but he is part of the team, and the performance up front, particularly in the first half, we can do much, much better."

Next steps

Almost a year into the job, it feels like a mostly positive experience for both is reaching a crossroads. Chelsea have no doubt improved under Tuchel, but their recent form has been concerning and we're now just waiting to see if it is a blip or simply form reverting to the mean.

If the German is to get things back on track you feel the key lies with the Lukaku situation. Either he somehow makes the former Everton and Manchester United striker work – and he has already stated he won't change the style of the team to do so – or he opts for a different approach.

His biggest achievement and definitive performance since arriving at Stamford Bridge was the Champions League win, and the difference in performances from Havertz, striker that night and scorer of the winning goal, and Lukaku's showing against the same opposition last week was night and day.

That is one big decision to make, but another area where Tuchel might be looking to evolve his team lies with Mount, arguably his most impressive player during the last year.

The 23-year-old has had more goal involvements than anyone else since Tuchel arrived (22, G13 A9) and the England international is the only attacker in the top 10 players with the most minutes clocked under Tuchel (4,025).

However, Mount was curiously left on the bench for the trip to City, where Tuchel explained: "We were simply opting for runners. We thought we could break the line more often with Hakim [Ziyech] as a left foot on the left side and going for Christian [Pulisic] as a right side because of the arrival of Christian in the box.

"Normally, he is a bit more offensive, a bit more of a runner than Mason and we expected the spaces more behind the last line and not in front of the back four from City. So that was the decision."

It was a curious decision, but was perhaps a way of trying to tempt a bit more out of Mount in terms of his running.

Tuchel has already achieved more than many thought he would at this stage, reaching an FA Cup final, lifting the Champions League and European Super Cup, and recently winning the FIFA Best coach of the year award.

However, if he wants to one day be in the conversation to be among the Mount Rushmore of Chelsea managers, maybe unlocking his team's full potential is as simple as making Mount rush more.

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  • From Manchester to Seville: Rangers' 14-year journey back to a European final From Manchester to Seville: Rangers' 14-year journey back to a European final

    None of us truly know where this life is going to take us, and what highs and lows we will experience along the way.

    That is especially true for anyone associated with Rangers Football Club if you had told them after the 2008 UEFA Cup final they would next reach another European showpiece 14 years later.

    As the Gers players trudged off the field at the Etihad Stadium having been thoroughly outplayed by Zenit, the disappointment was tempered with a belief that at least this was a team that had made a final and may have been on the way to more.

    It took nearly a decade and a half, but on Wednesday they find themselves heading to Spain to line up opposite Eintracht Frankfurt to contest the Europa League final.

    Here, Stats Perform takes a look at how Rangers got from Manchester to Seville, with one of the bumpiest rides football has ever seen.

    A night to forget in Manchester

    Under the guidance of legendary manager Walter Smith in 2007-08, Rangers were looking to overthrow rivals Celtic in the league, having been bested by the Hoops the previous two seasons.

    It was no good as Celtic made it a third Scottish title in a row, beating Rangers by three points, but there was a silver lining for the blue half of Glasgow.

    Having finished third in their Champions League group behind Barcelona and Lyon, Rangers found themselves in the UEFA Cup.

    They overcame Panathinaikos on away goals first up, before beating Werder Bremen 2-0 at Ibrox in first leg of the last 16, one of only two wins they actually managed in their entire run.

    After getting past Sporting Lisbon in the quarter-finals, a penalty shoot-out success after 210 goalless minutes against Fiorentina sent Smith's side to the final.

    However, it was a step too far for Rangers as they succumbed to defeat in Manchester, losing 2-0 to a Zenit team containing Andrei Arshavin and Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, and managed by former Gers boss Dick Advocaat.

    It was a blow but Rangers went on to win the next three Scottish titles until things began to unravel in the 2011-12 season, with poor form and a points deduction for financial issues seeing Celtic take the crown back.

    That was far from the worst thing that happened to the club that year, though.

    The fall and rise of Rangers

    The financial issues were worse than first feared. Owing significant money to HM Revenue and Customs, The Rangers Football Club plc entered liquidation on 31 October 2012.

    The club was forced to reform under the new ownership of Charles Green and a vote from other member clubs of the Scottish Football League meant Rangers were forced to begin again at the bottom, in the third division.

    Although they had to sell most of their players to raise money and because few fancied playing in Scotland's fourth tier, Rangers still boasted by far the strongest squad in the third division, while manager Ally McCoist had also stayed on to try and take them back to the top.

    They unsurprisingly won the league by 24 points in their first season, and had even fewer problems in the second division, now called League One, going unbeaten and drawing only three of their 36 games, securing 102 points and promotion at the first time of asking again.

    The Championship was a different prospect altogether, though, as Rangers found themselves in with both Hibernian and Hearts. The two Edinburgh clubs ultimately finished above them, though Rangers beat both Queen of the South and Hibs in the playoffs, before losing to Motherwell in the final, meaning they would have to try again.

    Stuart McCall was in charge by that point, and the former Scotland midfielder was able to get the job done in 2015-16, finishing 11 points ahead of second-placed Falkirk.

    For the first time in four years, Rangers were back at the top table in Scotland, but this was always going to be the biggest leap. Their first Old Firm derby back in the top flight ended in a 5-1 drubbing by Celtic.

    During the winter break, Rangers had played RB Leipzig in a friendly, losing 4-0 to the German side, which was perhaps a prophetic sign of how far they would need to rise to get back to where they felt they belonged.

    Rangers finished third in their first two seasons back in the Premiership and decided to bring in a big name to try and force their way into the title picture. Steven Gerrard.

    The former Liverpool star was new to management but was able to secure second place in 2018-19, though also back in Europe, Rangers were unable to get out of the Europa League group stage.

    They made it to the round of 16 the following season before going out to Bayer Leverkusen, and despite putting up more of a fight in the league, a wobble in the second half of the campaign saw Celtic claim their ninth consecutive title.

    Rangers fans everywhere wanted Gerrard to do everything he could to stop their great rivals from making it 10 in a row, and despite none of them being able to witness it thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, Gerrard and his players did just that.

    They had done it emphatically as well, going undefeated and collecting 102 points to win the Premiership, averaging 2.42 goals for per game, and just 0.34 goals against across their 38 league matches.

    Full circle

    It felt like Rangers were ready to take the next step, and many assumed that was by getting back into the group stage of the Champions League in 2021-22.

    However, those plans were scuppered as they were beaten home and away by Malmo in qualifying, so back to the Europa League it was.

    After losing their first two group games to Lyon and Sparta Prague without scoring, few will have had any hopes about making it to the knockout round playoffs, let alone where they ended up.

    Home wins against Brondby and Sparta as well as away draws with Brondby and Lyon saw them advance a point ahead of the Czech side, though they were given a daunting tie against Borussia Dortmund.

    On top of that, Gerrard had left for Aston Villa in November, with former player Giovanni van Bronckhorst taking over.

    A stunning effort in Signal Iduna Park saw them win 4-2, before completing the job with a 2-2 draw back at Ibrox.

    Hard-fought aggregate victories against Red Star Belgrade and Braga sent them to the semi-finals, and a date with more Bundesliga opposition, the very same they had lost convincingly to in that 2017 friendly.

    Leipzig will have been wondering how they only won 1-0 at Red Bull Arena in the first leg, but Ibrox was a different matter, with a raucous crowd again cheering Rangers to a famous 3-1 win, and their first European final since 2008.

    The second leg came nine years and one day after beating Berwick Rangers 1-0 at Ibrox in their final game in the third division.

    It has been quite a ride since Manchester in 2008. Whatever happens in Seville, it is not always about the destination. It's about the journey.

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    The recent takeover at Newcastle will make them active players in the transfer market, while Erik ten Hag's imminent arrival in Manchester will also likely create player turnover.

    Reports suggest Ten Hag's rebuild at Old Trafford does not only have consequences for outfield players, however.


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    Newcastle United's interest in Dean Henderson has ramped up, according to the Mirror.

    Reports suggest Magpies boss Eddie Howe, who wanted Henderson on loan in January, sees him as the ideal replacement for Martin Dubravka.

    Meanwhile, the 25-year-old goalkeeper is understood to be ready to leave unless Ten Hag can guarantee him the number one spot ahead of David de Gea.

    Newcastle have now guaranteed their Premier League status but have also conceded 61 goals this season, which is more than relegation-threatened Everton and Burnley.

    ROUND-UP

    - The Mirror is reporting Juventus will hold fresh talks with the representatives of Manchester United and France midfielder Paul Pogba.

    - The Bianconeri are also interested in 24-year-old Arsenal centre-back Gabriel, according to Tuttosport.

    - Newcastle are interested in Reims striker Hugo Ekitike, but Borussia Dortmund are also keen on him as a replacement for Erling Haaland, per Fabrizio Romano.

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  • Inzaghi says anything can happen after Inter take Scudetto race to the wire Inzaghi says anything can happen after Inter take Scudetto race to the wire

    Simone Inzaghi said Inter still believe they can retain the Scudetto after Lautaro Martinez's brace helped the Nerazzurri beat Cagliari and take the Serie A title race to the wire.

    After watching Milan beat Atalanta 2-0 at San Siro, the Nerazzurri had to win in Sardinia to avoid ceding their domestic crown to their rivals, but Martinez followed up Matteo Darmian's opener with a second-half double as Inter claimed a hard-fought 3-1 win to keep their hopes intact.

    Inter have now won seven of their past eight league games, but must beat Sampdoria and hope Sassuolo defeat the Rossoneri on the final day to win their 20th top-flight title.

    Inzaghi won one Serie A title during his playing career, scoring when Sven Goran Eriksson's Lazio claimed a dramatic title triumph on the final day of the 1999-00 season, beating Reggina 3-0 to overturn a two-point deficit to Juventus, who lost 1-0 to Perugia. 

    The former striker says that success is proof that anything can happen on the final day, and praised his team for putting in a composed performance just days after beating Juventus to win the Coppa Italia.

    "There is still one game missing, the team believes in it. We know that it has already happened, it has already happened to me," Inzaghi told his post-match press conference.

    "We believe in it until the end, and we will prepare it in the best possible way. Today we had a very good game two days after celebrating a trophy. In front of us we had a Cagliari team that was playing for survival and nothing was taken for granted, but I have a great team. 

    "I won a Scudetto against Lazio that I was two points behind [with one game left] and Juve lost to Perugia on the last day. In football you must never give up, we have always shown it."

    Inter's win means they have taken 39 points from their 19 away games in Serie A this season, the same amount they earned when winning the title under Antonio Conte last term.

    This represents the Nerazzurri's joint-third best away return in a single Serie A season (in the era of three points for a win), after they took 49 points in 2006-07 and 43 in 2019-20.

    Speaking to DAZN in the immediate aftermath of the win, Inzaghi had also heaped praise on two-goal hero Martinez after his match-winning performance.

    "I think he's got 25 goals this year. He has scored 13 goals in his last 13. The team put him in a position to score, he is a champion, he is very important for us and the team," he said.

    "He was good because even in the period in which he was unable to score, he worked hard, and now you can see the results."

    Martinez's tally of 25 goals in all competitions this season is at least eight better than any other Nerazzurri player (Edin Dzeko is second with 17), and the Argentine has become just the sixth Inter player to hit 20 goals in a Serie A season before turning 25 years of age, after Giuseppe Meazza, Sandro Mazzola, Antonio Angelillo, Ronaldo and Mauro Icardi. 

    While the striker acknowledged Inter had dropped points in games they should have won this season, he too holds out hope of a dramatic final-day triumph next Sunday.

    "We have lost points in matches in which we have done well, but in every competition we have played good football and done the work we wanted," the striker told DAZN.

    "The points lost are behind us, now there is one last home game with our fans, and we have to finish the championship in the best way."

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