Thomas Tuchel now has his statement win in the Premier League as well, emerging with Chelsea 1-0 victors from Anfield last night on the back of a “complete performance” from his charges. Ten games, ten unbeaten. Even more impressively, only two goals conceded, still only one of which was actually scored by an opposing player.
The comparison to Mourinho’s start to life at Chelsea remains valid as well, with The Special One doing one win better (8-2-0 vs. 7-3-0 in all competitions), but with identically staunch defensive records (just 2 conceded). Incidentally, match No.10 for both managers was a 1-0 win against Liverpool: Joe Cole scoring at the Bridge back in October 2004.
Key to Tuchel’s defensive scheme has been the switch to a back-three, with Thiago Silva initially anchoring that line. But it’s been Andreas Christensen who’s come in from the cold to put together a series of increasingly impressive performances after Silva picked up an injury against Spurs. Christensen was making his sixth start in the last seven games, with Chelsea keeping a fifth clean sheet during that run. The 24-year-old has been playing so well, it’s become far from a foregone conclusion that Silva would get his spot back if and when he finally returns from his thigh injury.
“Andreas stepped in in the middle of the first half against Tottenham, which was a really tough thing to do, and from the first minute, he’s been absolutely impressive.
“He’s brave, strong in individual challenges, brave and intelligent in the build-up, and plays with a lot of confidence. I am absolutely happy with his performances and how he’s stepped up. He’s been a big part of our performances.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
There were of course absolute heroes all over the pitch for Chelsea yesterday, but another one singled out by the head coach was N’Golo Kanté, who partnered a quietly impressive Jorginho in the pivot.
This was just the fourth start for Kanté under Tuchel (though he’s featured in all but the first two games as he was coming back from injury), and his most impressive one yet, both on and off the ball. In addition to the glorious assist he gave to Mount, he put in a vintage “70% of the Earth is covered by water, the rest is covered by Kanté” performance.
A gift, if you will, and Tuchel certainly did.
“[Kanté] is a gift. It’s incredible. I’ve never seen anything like this. At training, in games, he never stops. We look at the data on his intensity and he is incredible. He really is a gift.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: RMC Sport via Metro
If we want to worry about omens, Mourinho’s 11th match in charge saw his first loss (and only one in the Premier League that season), 1-0 to Manchester City, which at the time was still a bit of an upset. Chelsea have a massive test against Everton on Monday, as the top-four fight keeps coming down to the wire.
But if we can keep the defensive excellence going, we certainly have a great chance at finishing in the top-four.