Football

Chelsea castoffs show Thomas Tuchel what he is missing

Chelsea have had an impressive season under Thomas Tuchel. The Blues currently sit third in the Premier League, and have also recently lifted the Club World Cup trophy.

The London outfit are also into the fifth round of the FA Cup, as well as the League Cup final. Moreover, they are into the last 16 of the Champions League. And it’s been a real team effort from the Blues to get into these positions. Every player has been chipping in with important goals throughout the campaign.

That is, of course, except for their two strikers. Romelu Lukaku has somewhat disappointed since his return to Stamford Bridge. Much excitement came from his arrival, but the forward has failed to hit the heights he reached at Inter Milan last year.

The Belgian has just five Premier League goals this season. Timo Werner, meanwhile, has just one league goal to his name. It’s certainly not what the duo expect of themselves, and definitely not what their manager expects.

More frustrating for the boss, however, is that the players he sold are massively outperforming his current crop.

Former Chelsea strikers lighting up Serie A

It’s fair to say that Tuchel made the right move in letting go of the likes of Kurt Zouma and Fikayo Tomori at the back. That’s because Chelsea have been very impressive defensively this season. They’ve conceded just 18 goals from their 24 league matches.

Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger are undoubtedly the strongest pairing that the manager could have hoped for.

But the same cannot be said for his strikers. Tuchel arrived onto the scene in January 2021, with familiar faces Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud being moved on soon after. Michy Batshuayi was also allowed to leave on loan.

Abraham currently sits on 11 Serie A goals for Roma. Only three players have more league goals in Italy this season. Abraham has also netted six in the Europa Conference League, and one in the Coppa Italia.

Chelsea

Giroud meanwhile has ten goals in all competitions this season. The French international has seven in the league, and three in the Coppa Italia. Four of those have come this month. Two arrived in the Serie A derby win against Inter, with the other two coming in the cup quarter-final win against Lazio.

Even Batshuayi is getting in on the act. He has nine league goals for Besiktas this season. It’s more than Lukaku and Werner combined.

Are recognised strikers a thing of the past?

With injuries and COVID-19, Tuchel has been forced into experimenting with his options up front. This season, the likes of Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic have been used in a leading striker role in the absence of Lukaku and Werner.

But he isn’t the only boss using such tactics. Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has been using the system for a while now. In City’s latest game with Norwich, it was Phil Foden in a central striking role.

The Premier League goalscoring charts strongly suggest that the reliance on an out-and-out striker is a thing of the past. Leicester striker Jamie Vardy is the only such player within the top five. He is behind Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota, and Raheem Sterling, and level with Son Heung-Min in the list.

About the author

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Peter Lynch

Sports Journalism graduate from the University of Stirling, huge Liverpool and Northern Ireland fan, currently working as a freelancer.

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