Chelsea spent a club record amount to bring back Romelu Lukaku in the summer, but after a hot start, the 28-year-old complete striker has hit a bit of a dry spell and remains stuck on just four goals. Remarkably, that still makes him our top goalscorer, despite only accounting for 13 per cent of our total goals.
Impressively, our 30 goals have been shared among 17 different scorers (with one own goal added as well). Other than the goalkeepers, César Azpilicueta, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Saúl Ñíguez, Ross Barkley, and Malang Sarr are the only players in the squad without one.
That sort of goals-by-committee approach is probably not sustainable — at least according to accepted common wisdom — even if it does speak to the idea of having threats come from every area of the pitch. And so, Tuchel remains in search of attacking solutions, though his quest is now complicated by the injuries to Lukaku and Timo Werner (and the continuing unavailability of Christian Pulisic).
“Now it is even more necessary that we arrive in dangerous positions in the box with lots of players. It is important that we bring bodies to the opponents box, that we are brave enough and free enough to end our attacks with enough people in the box to increase the chance to score.”
This is of course not a new challenge for Tuchel at Chelsea. Last year, Jorginho led the team in league goals with just seven (7), all from the penalty spot. It would probably behoove our domestic aspirations if that weren’t the case again — not the seven penalties scored per se, but the fact that no one else had more goals in the league for us.
“Hopefully it will not be Jorginho at the end of the season as our top scorer! We like him a lot and it is no offence to him but we want our main guys to score regularly, hopefully we can provide and create chances for them.
“It is good that we are dangerous from several positions and set pieces. That’s what we want.”
A corollary to all this is that Tuchel’s stated intention with Chelsea from day one has been to make us “tough to beat” and a team no one wants to play. And he has certainly succeeded in that regard, with the team leading the league in fewest goals conceded — just three (3) so far, leading to some talk of being able to match the remarkable record of Mourinho’s Chelsea in 2004-05, which conceded just fifteen (15!) all season, which is still a record.
Defense wins you championships, as the old adage goes, after all, right?
That may be so, but our stingy defense has had to rely just a bit too much on Mendy’s heroics of late, which definitely isn’t a sustainable long-term strategy — that’s no slight on Mendy, and he (and Kepa) may certainly be able to keep that going, but historically, it’s not something that any team should rely on for too long.
“Let’s be honest, we were relying a little too much on our performance of our goalkeepers this season but still we have a certain stability and have a certain stability mentally to overcome certain difficult situations in games which is a good thing. We believe we can overcome them, we believe because we overcame them, we have experience overcoming them, we are a tough team to create chance against and score against. This is proven.
“And still, we have to work on it. It is not only about defending. The game is so complex because the best way to defend is by having the ball and attacking, having the ball in the opponent’s half forcing problems for the other team.
“This is also the way to defend, it is how to defend immediately after a ball loss, how good our counter pressing is and our positioning when attacking, how much effort we put into invisible work, to closing distances with opponents, why we are attacking, why we play on the other side and how high our concentration level is.”
At the end of the day however, it’s all about closing the gap still to the two teams who have dominated the Premier League in the last half-decade. We’ve made a good start this season, but the job is far from done. In fact, it’s still only just beginning.
“We need to prove it [still]. It is not enough to prove it for nine games, we need to prove it throughout the whole season. That will take all of us, all of our courage and all of our effort and discipline. It will take really all of us.
“It is like running a marathon and it is exhausting [and] this is what we are up to, what drives us and we will work on it because it takes a lot to keep the momentum going.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
It’s a marathon indeed, with little room to stumble.
Next hurdle: Newcastle.