When Thomas Tuchel was appointed Chelsea head coach, he said he wanted to make Chelsea a team that no one would want to play against.
Quite what he meant by that was not immediately clear.
Fair enough, most managers who take over a team on a losing streak, bereft of confidence, would want to halt the slide. The obvious course of action is to stop the rot and that begins with sorting out the defence – make the team hard to beat. If the team stops losing, confidence can return as quickly as it seeped away.
To say that Tuchel has achieved this would be an understatement. The fact that his Chelsea side have shipped just two goals and conceded just 2.23 shots on target per game during his 13 games in charge is quite frankly remarkable. More impressive still is that he has done so without Thiago Silva, Chelsea’s most experienced player and a natural leader at the heart of the defence, for all but three of those thirteen matches.
Defenders not seen as good enough by many supporters and discarded by Frank Lampard such as Marcos Alonso, Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen have returned to the side and looked world class.
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Tuchel’s Chelsea are beginning to look like a well drilled, organised unit from defence to attack. Playing out from the back with confidence and skill, with quick passing rather than the ponderous side to side midfield play that has often bedevilled them in the past.
OK, Tuchel and Chelsea have yet to find the combination to unlock the attack and score the goals the build-up play deserves, but there are signs that this will be worked out in much the same way that the head coach has addressed the defensive issues.
The best performances of the Tuchel era so far came over the two legs of the Champions’ League round of 16 tie against Atletico Madrid. What was so pleasing was not just beating Atleti, but beating them at…