Winless and unbeaten Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel takes charge of his second ever Chelsea match this weekend as Burnley surge into town looking to continue their own winning and unbeaten run. Sean Dyche’s rugby team have beaten Liverpool (at Anfield!) and Aston Villa in their last two league games, sandwiching an FA Cup fourth round victory over Fulham.
Tuchel’s first match in charge, coming just 24 hours and one training session after his appointment didn’t exactly leave us gasping in wonderment, but it did show that the new man in charge has a pretty clear idea of how he wants his team to play. Whether he can transmit those ideas to the players in such a short and busy period, and then actually get them to perform is another question entirely.
How will we answer this time?
Date / Time: Sunday, January 31, 2021, 12.00 GMT; 7am EST; 5:30pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Graham Scott (on pitch); Michael Oliver (VAR)
Forecast: Heavy rain
On TV: BT Sport 1 (UK); none (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); SuperSport Premier League, Canal+ Sport 3 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: BT Sport Live (UK); Peacock (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv Now (NGA) — Peacock is NBC’s streaming service, and is now very much the future with NBCSN going away at the end of the year. It’s not the best (poor UI, lag, etc.), but it’s what we’ve got. Comcast Xfinity customers get it for free (still counts against your data). Others have to pay $5/month or $50/year ($10 & $100 for the premium ad-free version). Comcast is the parent company of NBC and an investor in Vox/SB Nation. Here’s our affiliate link if you want to make our corporate overlords happy.
Chelsea team news: Tuchel has now had 3-4 training sessions of varying degrees of intensity and inventiveness, which is obviously still nowhere as much as one would have in a normal preseason but it’s certainly better than the exactly 1 he had before his first game. Maurizio Sarri, whose tactics were not all that dissimilar to what we saw Chelsea produce on Wednesday, once claimed that it would take him at least six months to implement what he wanted, and he never actually got to that point. Can Tuchel do better, more quickly?
Against Wolves, we saw an Antonio Conte-esque 3-4-3, with both Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic playing as wing-backs at one point. But Tuchel has plenty of options, with Reece James (recently dealing with a knee problem) and Marcos Alonso (recently dealing with a boredom problem) surely watching with interest, and N’Golo Kanté now back healthy as well. Tuchel is supposedly a big fan of rotating his squad when he can, and with Spurs coming up on Thursday and Sheffield United the Sunday after, there will be plenty of opportunities to do so.
Amidst all of that, the table itself continues to look not great, with Chelsea sitting down in eight, and now a pretty solid seven points off fourth and eleven points off the top (where Manchester City, the only consistently good team in the league, also have a match-in-hand).
Burnley team news: Speaking of good teams, the Clarets have suddenly won three on the bounce in all competitions, and they weren’t even all of the 1-0 variety like the one they eked out at Anfield thanks to Ashley Barnes’ Ashley-Barnes-ing. That said, they’ve scored only 13 goals in their 19 Premier League games (only Sheffield United have less with 12 in 20), and have conceded one more than Chelsea’s oft-rickety foundations.
Dyche has a trio of late fitness tests to consider in Charlie Taylor, Josh Brownhill, and the aforementioned Barnes. Taylor and Barnes also missed the midweek win over Villa while Brownhill was forced off at half time.
Burnley have moved up to 15th thanks to that win and their recent run, opening up a nine-point gap to the relegation zone.