Chelsea’s defensive record under Thomas Tuchel has been good on an historic level, but perhaps the most remarkable thing about it has been that we managed to do it not through purely defensive or counter-attacking tactics, but rather with controlled and often impressive positive, proactive football. In fact, the biggest problem last season was our inability to convert chances, underperforming our xG by double digits, the biggest margin outside of the bottom five teams in the league.
Our ability to go toe-to-toe with the best of the best last season led us to the Champions League trophy, but we’ve not operated consistently on such lofty levels this season so far. On Saturday we took that to an extreme not seen in nearly half a decade, defending very deep and playing almost exclusively reactively in the 1-0 defeat to Manchester City.
One gets the feeling that wasn’t exactly Tuchel’s gameplan, but that’s what ended up happening. Defender Andreas Christensen expressed similar sentiments afterwards.
“I don’t think we see ourselves as a defensive team. We’ve shown in other games we can play with a back five or a back three with quality. We want to be on the front foot.
“[But vs. Man City] we gave the first half away a little bit and we got into the game too late. It felt like we lacked a bit of everything, especially in the first half. As soon as we got on the ball in the first half, we had no options really. We lacked a bit of intensity, energy going forward, a bit of composure on the ball. We lacked what we usually have on the ball, so it was a bit of everything and it’s disappointing but we’re looking forward.”
So now, we have to not only bounce back in terms of the result, but we have to bounce back in terms of the style, and do so at the home of Juventus. No big deal, right?
“It’s the perfect game to respond, absolutely. It’s not nice to lose our first match, but now we have another game coming up very quickly and it’s another tough game as well.
“It will be a tough game but it’s a great opportunity to get back to playing football the way we want to play, the way we see ourselves, playing on the front foot again. It’s a tough game but there’s no better way to recover from a defeat than to beat another good team.”
-Andreas Christensen; source: Chelsea FC
The proof, as ever, will be in the pudding.