Image from: freelargeimages.com
Team Review – Chelsea
League Position: 4th
The weakest part of this team is this trio of keepers. Mendy looks the best of the bunch, but he is extremely rash and is not really someone you would want to rely in a pressurised situation. Kepa is the ultimate ‘chocolate-wrists’ keeper, with the ability to turn an easy save into a push into the back of the net. Caballero was barely good enough to be a third-choice five years ago, now, at the age of 39, he is well past his best but in the role he is asked to perform he is passable. There is an obvious requirement for a solid goalkeeper to take the number 1 shirt and make it his own, as Mendy would be perfectly fine as a second choice.
This is a mixed bag, very mixed in fact. The centre-backs, other than Thiago Silva, are all decent enough, but not top class. Silva himself is top class, but at 36 you have to question how much longer he can carry on. At left-back they have a trio who are good going forward but struggle to defend, putting more pressure on the centre-backs and midfield to cover. Added to that, Chilwell has had discipline issues in the past before joining and is now being sidelined under Tuchel. A lot will depend on how he reacts to being no longer first choice. The right is a weakness. Azpilicueta is past his best as a full-back and James is terrible defensively and looks a bit like a fish out of water when forced onto the back foot. To me he looks like a player that needs to play in midfield, where he excels. Though you then lose his excellent crossing ability, so a bit of a case of swings and roundabouts with him.
Charly Musonda Jr
The key issue they have is finding a way to get the best out of Kante on a regular basis, while not over working a man who will run himself into the ground for the team if they are not careful. With Gilmour and Mount plus Havertz if he finds his feet in England, they have an exceptional core of young talent. The issue, to me, is that Jorginho and Kovacic are the ones being relied on, despite neither really suiting the Premier League. As back ups, they are very good, but neither should be more than that in my opinion.
There is a real lack of a consistent goalscorer in the team, with Giroud an excellent player for build up play, but not really deadly in front of goal. Though he does weigh in with his fair share. Abraham is just nowhere near good enough and does not look like he ever will be, to be first choice. Werner is better at providing chances than he is at creating them, so a goalscorer is something that could make a real difference. I do fear they made a huge mistake buying Ziyech, he never really impressed me at Ajax and now looks just like he wants to be Riyad Mahrez but is half the player, in effort and ability. A decent enough left foot, but flatters to deceive most of the time. The big issue for me is Pulisic, on his day he is a world class talent, but constant injury problems need to be solved. While Hudson-Odoi is extremely talented, there are major question marks over his attitude and that needs to be sorted if he is to be the player he should be.
Manager: Thomas Tuchel
The German has done very well to organise the team and get it going forward as a unit once more. There are issues with the lack of fluidity and an overly defensive approach right now, but I am sure that will come in time as the players to suit the style are brought in. It is really far too early to judge that. Tuchel has always been someone who is liked by the vast majority of players but long term there are question marks over his tendency to pick fights he cannot win with his superiors.
There is a strong squad there for Tuchel to work with, but it lacks a cohesive team plan, due to not having the right players to build a team around. It does have a number of great players, but they do not mesh together well as a group. Added to the weakness between the sticks, it is little wonder Tuchel has begun by tightening up defensively. It would not take more than a couple of good transfers to make this a squad capable of challenging for the title, but it would still need to be managed extremely well to be able to get on equal terms with that incredible Man City squad. More of a question is whether they can continue to integrate the youngsters from their exceptional youth system in the first team. That was Lampard’s big success during his time, but will Tuchel be able to continue with it when he probably feels that he is not likely to be the one to reap the rewards of any youngsters he does introduce?
Written by Tris Burke April 02 2021 14:43:24