In Thomas Tuchel‘s first twenty-two games in charge, the Blues lost just two games. It’s safe to say, things were going swimmingly in Chelsea’s quest to finish in the top four. After an incredible two-leg performance over Real Madrid to reach the UEFA Champions League final, the Blues travelled to Manchester and turned heads with their 2-1 victory over the eventual champions, in a preview of the final to come. Just as the Blues reached their highest point under Thomas Tuchel, they quickly reached their lowest.
Amidst an eight match unbeaten run at home, Arsenal came knocking, and stunned the Blues.
CHELSEA 0-1 ARSENALEmbed from Getty Images
Chelsea nearly let the top four slip away just a little over one week ago. Against a weak Arsenal side, barely putting up a fight, Chelsea limped to a 1-0 defeat. It was a shocking goal for the Blues to concede, and Arsenal’s decent defense stopped Tuchel’s men from making any progress from there. Although Tuchel’s team have been dominant throughout his time, they’ve massively underperformed in front of goal. The Arsenal match was a reminder of just how fruitless they often can be in converting chances, and presented a perfect example of a fact that’s often gone underreported since the brilliant German took charge and started doing brilliant things.
CHELSEA 0-1 LEICESTER – FA CUP FINALEmbed from Getty Images
The very next game, which also happened to be the FA Cup Final, pressure was on for the Blues to not let it happen again. The Blues tried their best to secure the victory over the Foxes, but they had no answer for Youri Tielemans’ stunning second half-goal for Leicester City. Mount and Chilwell’s attempts at goal were no match for the strong arms of Kasper Schmeichel, and the Foxes secured their first ever FA Cup win.
As usual, Chelsea dominated the game, but their attack was toothless. With the extraordinary quality behind Tielemans’ strike, even Kepa couldn’t be to blame this time. They took the entire match to get going, and only started to trouble Leicester’s goal upon the arrival of former Fox Ben Chilwell – the team’s left-wing-back. Leicester meanwhile played direct and attacked quickly after winning the ball. After going a goal up, they sat even deeper in what was practically a 5-3-1-1. Along with Leicester’s sturdy defensive shape, Chelsea’s creative attacking changes meant very little. The Blues couldn’t get past Schmeichel, and the Foxes claimed their first ever FA Cup win instead. Leicester’s win was the first time that Chelsea lost two in a row under Tuchel, and meant that the pressure to claim top four continued into their next match. Ironically, that next match was also against Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester City.
CHELSEA 2-1 LEICESTEREmbed from Getty Images
In a case of dramatic irony, Chelsea faced the Foxes only three days after the FA Cup Final, this time in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge. This time however, Thomas Tuchel’s men entered the game with a sense of fearlessness that Leicester City were simply unable to match. The Blues avenged their FA Cup loss and, to the delight of the 8,000 fans watching in the stadium that night and all others around the world, they moved above into third place with a top four finish firmly in their hands.
This time, Chelsea completely dominated the game, and created several chances to score. Two offside goals from Timo Werner forced the Foxes into a 0-0 draw at half-time, but it wasn’t long before Antonio Rudiger nodded the ball into the back of the net in the second half. Jorginho also grew into the game by coming deeper and deeper to pick up possession, and Mateo Kovacic fit back into the side right away after replacing the injured N’Golo Kante. That was actually the one major downside of the game, as Mount left battered and bruised and Kante injured altogether. With a crucial final day match against Aston Villa, and a UEFA Champions League Final still to come, Chelsea will be hoping their two best players are fit again sooner rather than later. Nonetheless, Thomas Tuchel’s side can take away the positives from the win, and look on the bright side now that the top four race is firmly within their grasp.
Although it has been a successful season for Chelsea thus far, reaching both the FA Cup and Champions League finals, they nearly slipped out of the top four race altogether. Their massive 2-1 win over Leicester City in midweek puts the Blues back on track to claim top four, and now they will be hoping for more silverware in the UEFA Champions League to celebrate this season in style. Thanks for reading and see you soon!