Tuchel discovers new Chelsea role as Todd Boehly’s clever Thiago Silva repeat silences rivals
The first two games of Chelsea’s 2022/23 campaign are now officially in the book. A scrappy 1-0 win at Goodison Park against Everton and a pulsating 2-2 draw with Spurs encapsulated the bizarre nature of football.
Although a win on Merseyside can never be turned down, the performance did little to spark confidence that the next weekend’s clash against an inspired Spurs would run smoothly.
But this past Sunday’s display, take away all the touchline and officiating drama, was highly encouraging for Thomas Tuchel and supporters watching on.
Chelsea have shown enough they still have what it takes to compete with high-quality opposition, especially with the tactical acumen of Tuchel.
And a firm disclaimer, it is far too early to make any conclusions about this season or squad. Particularly in a year that will see a congested schedule forcing more midweek games in the Premier League and Champions League.
Chelsea’s strong display against a Spurs side who had apparently “wrapped up” third place after only one game only furthered the flaw in early hot takes. Who would have thought Liverpool would not win any out of their first two games?
But having just said that, let’s give some overly assured conclusions from the opening two Chelsea games that will probably be disproven quite quickly.
It is decided, Ruben Loftus-Cheek is now a wingback. His inclusion against Spurs on Sunday was a shrewd switch by Tuchel to nullify the threat of Ryan Sessegnon and add the versatility to move into a midfield four in possession to overwhelm Spurs.
There is no need to splash £40-50m on another wingback before transfer deadline day, Ruben is the guy. He loves the club, he has got the right blend of speed, physicality and technical prowess to offer what Tuchel needs when Reece James is pushed back or needs to be rotated.
For a priceless alternative, Tuchel has saved Todd Boehly money in a lavish summer of spending.
Boehly knows Ball
Todd Boehly has been very active and visible during his first summer, taking an interim sporting director role, jetting across Europe and enjoying good meals in Barcelona.
With this, and the changing nature of Chelsea’s targets, he has been accused by Gary Neville of “playing football manager”, referring to his lack of experience dealing in football.
Chelsea fans have shaken their heads in bemusement over recent years looking at some of the high-profile signings and the lack of value gained from them.
So far, the money spent on Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly and Marc Cucurella looks to be a smart choice. All three look tactically suited to the possession-heavy demands of Tuchel, plus the requirement to counter-press.
The fact all three were involved in some part for Chelsea’s two goals against Spurs only bodes well as the season is in its early stages.
Cucurella and Sterling are quickly showing the value of buying within the Premier League, whilst Koulibaly is proving to be the veteran Chelsea were promised from Serie A.
Broja will overtake Havertz
This one of course could be derailed by a potential striker signing before deadline day, but Kai Havertz is under more scrutiny to lead Chelsea’s attacking line and produce consistent goals after the departures of Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner.
Although Havertz’s influence was notable in the Spurs game, his point-blank miss on the end of a sumptuous Reece James cross demonstrated the lack of ruthlessness Chelsea have lacked for far too long.
Armando Broja is waiting in the wings to prove his talent, and if Havertz doesn’t get off the mark soon, the Albanian Diego Costa can take his spot for Tuchel.