Chelsea are seemingly trying their best to make the conclusion of this season as interesting as possible, but not in good ways for supporters.
From a position of great strength heading into the final run of the season, in the Champions League last eight and in control of their Premier League destiny, to being knocked out by Real Madrid and three league defeats to Brentford, Arsenal and Everton have increased the scrutiny and lessened a wide margin for error.
Even after these setbacks, Chelsea are still in control of their destiny. Six points from the last four games against Wolves, Leeds, Leicester and Watford will guarantee a place at Europe’s top table for next season.
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Thomas Tuchel needs a response from his players, whose erratic performances could quickly turn that safety net into a stressful end as the Blues limp towards an uncertain summer under new ownership, with Todd Boehly hoping to conclude a deal this week.
With players out of form, tactical criticisms and an FA Cup final to get ready for, let’s go into three calls Tuchel should be making in the final three weeks of the 2021/22 campaign.
Use Reece James only as a wingback
Pretty simple this one, and as the Manchester United performance should have firmly showcased this is undeniably Reece James’ strongest position. The way he links with others provides a creative drive that few others in the current squad possess.
The recent attempt to shift him into a back-three is probably more reflective of the fragility of others than of James himself. Even if the switch worked because the player is exceptional, it was always going to limit one of Chelsea’s most devastating attacking threats.
In four of the five remaining games of this season, excluding the Liverpool game, James’ influence could be defining in contests Chelsea are expected to dominate and control. Part of this also leads into my second point over who should play behind James which is…
Reintgrate Trevoh Chalobah
My colleague Adam Newson penned a good piece recently on the positive impact Chalobah has had on Chelsea’s defence this season. His sudden drop in minutes has consistently puzzled supporters, sparking concerns he has fallen out of Tuchel’s good book.
However, the reality of clean sheets with him present and the struggles of Cesar Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen are evidence enough to put Chalobah on the right-side of the back-three, with Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger accompanying him.
There is also a view to beyond this season, with Christensen likely out the door and Azpilicueta potentially off also, those minutes to further bed Chalobah in during his breakthrough season are imperative as he will likely be relied upon more next term.
Don’t Forget Lukaku
Probably the least popular opinion here, but the sight of Romelu Lukaku staring blankly into the distance at Goodison Park felt like a new low for the Belgian’s challenging time at Stamford Bridge this season. Not using Lukaku, for all his struggles, would prove counter-productive and create a sense of complacency in Kai Havertz, the central attacker in Tuchel’s front three, who has recently dropped form.
This may an unsavable situation, one that leads to Lukaku’s sale in the summer. But Tuchel has a squad to use for five games and as we have seen from Timo Werner, in one-off situations there may be something left. Lukaku did look promising off the bench against West Ham, winning the penalty that got Craig Dawson sent off.
The issues with Lukaku are obvious and as I wrote after the Arsenal game, look irredeemable. Lukaku himself, even given the opportunity has to step up and show more. Given the number of games in a short space of time, rotation is inevitable.
Source by Football London