31 Jan Alonso, Azpilicueta and Chelsea’s previous guard serving to Tuchel rebuild within the post-Lampard period
LONDON — If unsure, belief the previous dependables. They have been on the periphery of the final throes of the Frank Lampard period, however objectives from the unlikely double act of Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso secured Thomas Tuchel’s first win as Chelsea boss in opposition to Burnley on Sunday.
Chelsea dominated possession and territory in opposition to the well-organised customer, however the relentless urgent from the Blues nullified any Burnley risk — limiting them to only one shot on objective — and as a substitute noticed Tuchel’s aspect dominate the center of the pitch and craft half-chance after half-chance just for the 2 veteran Spaniards to information the aspect house to a 2-Zero victory.
For all of the discuss of their costly summer time signings and the way Tuchel wants to search out the best cocktail to unlock their potential, it was the previous dependables who delivered. This was Alonso’s first match motion since September; Azpilicueta was sidelined in direction of the top of Lampard’s tenure with Reece James usually most popular, as was Antonio Rudiger. One other participant on the periphery was Callum Hudson-Odoi, eternally linked with a transfer to Bayern Munich, however he has change into Tuchel’s go-to right-wing-back and once more, like his efficiency midweek in opposition to Wolverhampton Wanderers, was a relentless risk down the flank and stored Burnley’s defenders spinning.
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Whereas they’re searching for the true Timo Werner and Kai Havertz to step up, there’s a quiet renaissance going on among the many previous guard who, in a unique world, could have been trying on the final 24 hours of this transfer window as an opportunity for respite elsewhere. That is actually the case for Alonso.
When Alonso final featured in September, Lampard’s aspect have been simply three video games into the brand new Premier League season. The then-manager’s belief in Alonso evaporated within the 3-Three draw at West Bromwich Albion, compounded by an alleged bust-up between the pair within the speedy aftermath of that match, and the Spaniard would by no means once more characteristic underneath Lampard. Alonso noticed new signing Ben Chilwell take his spot at left-back.
Alonso emerged from the wilderness to place in a typical efficiency of previous: continuously chasing, hustling after which darting ahead. He grabbed Chelsea’s second objective within the 84th minute as he discovered himself superbly poised for a complicated end, teeing up his personal volley off his chest and thigh to smash previous Nick Pope on the close to submit.
“We opted for a bit extra measurement, this was not a mirrored image on [Chilwell],” Tuchel stated after the match. “Marcos is used to play on this function, and has good timing for arriving within the field. We’re very joyful that he might rating the second objective that completed the sport.”
Once more Chelsea performed a versatile 3-4-Three with Alonso’s and Hudson-Odoi’s work price key to their transitional play, but additionally their defensive stability. Thiago Silva was a rock on the centre of Chelsea’s defence whereas Rudiger and Azpilicueta had license to hold the ball out of defence when house was supplied. That motion led to Chelsea’s opener, the place they moved the ball rapidly from close to their very own field by means of the midfield to Hudson-Odoi, whose inside ball allowed Azpilicueta to complete.
The early indicators of Tuchel’s reign are a desire for defensive stability, and attacking across the fringes of the opposition. It is paying homage to Pep Guardiola’s use of wing-backs, however this can be a Chelsea now anchored in urgent and counter-pressing; they successfully exit to suffocate the opposition, ravenous them of alternatives after which hit with their very own punches.
“Very full efficiency, once more defensively and offensively,” Tuchel stated. “It was very sturdy bodily with the lengthy balls and duels within the air, preventing for the second ball. We had loads of energetic defending, by no means passive.”
Chelsea did have alternatives to stretch the lead, however a mixture of Burnley’s doggedness in defence — spearheaded by the excellent James Tarkowski — and Chelsea’s lack of medical ending in entrance of objective stored it at two. Tuchel was happy with the 2 objectives, however stated post-match: “It must be a sign to the blokes up entrance it was all the way down to the defenders to attain. We lack the ultimate contact and supply.”
Werner’s woes continued in entrance of objective, and it seems to be more and more like it will likely be a long-term mission to deliver the perfect out of him. He operated primarily in his most popular place — simply on the left, within the half-space, trying to time his runs to perfection — however it’s nonetheless to click on with him. He had a handful of half-chances, and even kicked the ball in opposition to his leg within the first half in what might’ve been his finest alternative, however you sense he’ll proceed to rediscover his confidence underneath Tuchel. The brand new supervisor stated earlier within the week the stress is attending to Werner, and it is as a result of Chelsea’s No. 11 cares.
Those that have performed for Tuchel say he bases his player-facing motivational strategy on whether or not they want a hug or a rocket. With Werner you sense it is the previous, however this may take time. He wants a type of lucky, ugly objectives to carry the load off his shoulders.
Mateo Kovacic was excellent within the center, whereas Jorginho is the important thing cog of their transitional sport. Mason Mount introduced loads of vitality and drive, however Tuchel wants to determine precisely how he’ll match into this 3-4-Three setup. Havertz is the most certainly long-term reply to that inside-right spot, however his sport time was restricted to 10 minutes from the bench whereas Hakim Ziyech was neglected as a consequence of fatigue. Christian Pulisic added loads of vigour as a half-time substitute for Tammy Abraham, however they should fine-tune their attacking precision to see their embarrassment of riches lastly click on in entrance of objective. When it does come collectively, they’re going to be ruthless.
This was snug for Chelsea and seemed like a type of run-of-the-mill victories for a team taking part in with confidence and realizing the significance of grinding out wins in opposition to spirited, difficult opponents like Burnley. However we’re simply six days into the Tuchel period, and so he has gone to the tried and examined to construct confidence again into the aspect. They will not be the long-term key protagonists in Tuchel’s Chelsea plan, however for now they’re the glue slowly papering up the cracks left by the turbulence of the previous week.