Chelsea 2 Newcastle United 0 – Tuchel’s revolution takes shape
In typical Roman Abramovich style, out went club legend Frank Lampard, along with whatever sentimentality the Russian oligarch had for his one-time star player.
In came highly-rated German coach Thomas Tuchel, a manager hungry to prove himself after being let go by Pari$ $aint-G£rmain.
Nobody really expected Tuchel to come in and make an immediate impact. The Blues were on a terrible run of form, the players were all low on confidence and they were, at one point, too close to Arsenal in the table for comfort.
But Tuchel has proven himself to be a miracle worker. He has stabilised the team, got the players back to mastering the basics and leant in to young, hungry players like Callum Hudson-Odoi.
WATCH: Tuchel asseses quick start to life at Chelsea
His approach has yielded dividends. Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Newcastle United this morning (SGT) at Stamford Bridge was their fourth successive Premier League victory and they have now hauled themselves back into the top-four.
Under Tuchel, Chelsea fans were even able to witness the rare phenomenon that was long thought to be the stuff of myths and legends: a Timo Werner Premier League goal.
Newcastle were helpless in the face of a tactically disciplined and efficient Chelsea side. Although to be fair, the Magpies are often helpless regardless of the opposition they face.
But that does not take away from the fact that Chelsea are slowly but surely improving. It might take a while longer, but it’s looking only a matter of time before Chelsea establish themselves as a genuine force in the Premier League once again.
Line-ups: It’s a back-three for Tuchel once again as he looks to stabilise his defence. Thiago Silva is still out with injury, so Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta are tasked to keep Newcastle’s forward line quiet. In truth, Tuchel probably only needed just one defender to keep Newcastle in check, especially with Callum Wilson out through injury, but he understandably opts for the conservative option. In midfield, Hudson-Odoi retains his spot in the starting XI, while Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic form the base in the centre of the pitch. Up front, it’s Tammy Abraham leading the line for Chlesea, with Werner and Mason Mount in support behind him.
7th min: Azpilicueta goes close with a header
Chelsea seize the initiative right from the start and their positive approach almost pays off. A corner is floated in by Mount and Azpilicueta, one of the shortest players on the pitch, manages to get his head to it. The ball beats Karl Darlow in the Newcastle goal but Emil Krafth is there on the line to clear the ball away.
15th min: Lascelles denies Abraham with a last-ditch tackle
Forget short, intricate passing in the opposition half. Sometimes, the best way to open up a defence is through Route One football and so it proves this time, as Abraham latches onto a long pass and bears down on goal. He takes one touch too many, however, which allows Jamaal Lascelles to recover and make a robust challenge which takes both the ball and the man. Abraham is left crumpled on the pitch and despite treatment, finds that he cannot continue on, so Olivier Giroud comes on in his place.
26th min: Werner misses a gilt-edged opportunity
Werner’s bad luck in front of goal continues. Marcos Alonso tees the German up with a perfectly weighted header, but Werner, under no pressure whatsoever, contrives to put the ball just wide of the post.
31st min: GOAL! Giroud gives Chelsea the lead
Giroud shows Werner just how it’s done. That’s why he’s a World Cup winner while Werner’s greatest accomplishment is getting Lampard sacked. Still, props must be given to Werner for his involvement in Giroud’s goal, with his cross from the left being parried out by Darlow into the path of the French striker, who empathically puts the ball into the back of the net.
34th min: Werner still can’t get a break in front of goal
Werner goes close again, this time latching onto a through ball from Kovacic, but his effort is acrobatically tipped over the bar by Darlow. Did Werner get frightened by a black cat and break a mirror while walking under a ladder before the season started or something?
39th min: GOAL! Werner gets his goal at long last
Hold the phones, stop the press, buy TOTO and 4D! Werner has scored! This is not a drill. I repeat: Werner. Has. Scored. Newcastle fail to clear a Mount corner properly and the loose ball falls kindly to Werner two yards out from goal. For the first time since dinosaurs roamed the earth, Werner manages to put the ball into the back of the net. It’s not a pretty goal by any means, but Werner won’t care because his goal drought is finally over. Werner’s goal stuns both teams into inaction for the remainder of the half as Chelsea head into the break with a comfortable two goal lead.
48th min: Shelvey tests Kepa with a free-kick
The 45 minutes was more or less a snooze fest for Kepa Arrizabalaga, but the Chelsea keeper is called into action early in the second-half. From about 35 yards out, Shelvey fires a free-kick towards the left of the Chelsea goal, but Kepa is more than equal to it and gathers comfortably.
74th min: Kepa makes another save
With a two-goal lead, Chelsea settle into a comfortable rhythm in the second half without ever being really threated by Newcastle. But even a clock gets the time right twice a day and the visitors finally manage to fashion for themselves a half-decent chance through Joe Willock’s header. Kepa, however, is alert and tips the ball beyond the post. First, Werner scores and now Kepa is having a blinder in goal? Can Tuchel also turn water into wine?
80th min: Reece James forces Darlow into a save
Chelsea defender Reece James continues his encouraging comeback from injury and goes close to getting on the scoresheet barely two minutes after coming on as a substitute. The 21-year-old breaks free down the right and fires a fierce shot at goal, but Darlow manages to stick his leg out to block it.
The rest of the match plays out without much incident and Chelsea collect as easy a victory as they ever will this season. Beating Newcastle, who are edging closer towards the relegation zone, might not be a huge accomplishment for the hosts (because who can’t beat Newcastle these days?) in isolation. Tuchel, however, will be pleased with how his team seems to have bought into his footballing philosophy so quickly.
WATCH: Tuchel makes clear his intent to win trophies at Chelsea
It is still early days yet for Tuchel and Chelsea. But the signs are looking positive for the Stamford Bridge outfit. For all that has been written about the dominance of Manchester City and Liverpool in England over the past few seasons, perhaps we are now witnessing the birth of a new superpower in the Premier League: Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea – By FBS Guest Writer