Thomas Tuchel proclaimed his Chelsea side “are never safe.” when asked about the race to qualify for the Champions League. “If we are in a race for top one, top two, or top four, no matter what the race, the last four games to only have four points will never be enough, no matter which race we are in.”
The increasing pressure Tuchel feels is self-inflicted, in fact, his Chelsea side should be feeling no uncertainty over their place in the top four. Unlike other seasons, the Blues should be strolling through the last few weeks of this Premier League season, turning attention to the summer and next season, where improvement is expected.
But as Tuchel has become more irritable in post-match interviews, his team have become less confident and more vulnerable in a race they should have never been drawn into.
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There is almost a sense of deja vu about Chelsea’s self-imposed collapse over recent weeks. It was in the run-in last season that the Blues under Tuchel almost surrendered their fourth-place spot.
Contrary to popular belief, more born out of the position Tuchel found Chelsea when he took over in January 2021, the narrative that Chelsea had heroically clawed back an unassailable gap was always overblown, and it was league defeats to West Brom, Arsenal and Aston Villa which meant that Gareth Bale and Spurs had to lend a hand by beating Leicester City on the final day almost 12 months ago.
Given Chelsea’s Champions League triumph a week later, this implosion is neatly forgotten but that in itself has become part of the issue with the club’s relationship with league competition over the past four years. Cup triumphs and dramatic runs have always skewed the picture over how good the squad is, and at what level it is actually operating.
An FA Cup win over Liverpool this month will likely mask a lot of the issues seen in the league this season. But the result of that final should bear absolutely no relevance as to how Chelsea approach next season. With the gap to first-place currently at 17 points, there is a serious threat the 19-point gap to Manchester City last season could be widened, which would be quite damning to any prospect of overturning that quickly.
The recent stale nature of Chelsea’s attacking, old issues coming back up to the surface and the uncertainty over the club’s ownership, have made for a slight plateau under Thomas Tuchel. The sort that under his predecessors was the beginning of the end. Antonio Conte’s second season proved this, in particular the run-in where Chelsea dropped out of the top four and finished fifth, losing 3-0 away at Newcastle on the final day who had nothing to play for.
Chelsea’s recent form does not fill you with great confidence. The utterly incomprehensible defensive mistakes continue to pile up, handing goals to opponents on a silver platter, whilst Chelsea’s stale build-up has again become too easy to nullify if routes to Mason Mount and Reece James are effectively closed down, as seen against Everton.
There needs to be a sense of freedom and flair to Chelsea in the final weeks of this season, something to reignite supporters and players who look either exhausted or lacking inspiration. The worst thing would be for Tuchel’s good work to be completely undermined by a limp finish to a campaign that started so brightly.
Six points against Wolves and Leeds will do, depending on other results may require less. But if Chelsea goes into the final game against Watford still with their qualification in question, then it is hard to argue any improvement has been made in the league.
Source by Football London