Friday, January 21, 2022
HomeSportPremier League: Chelsea need Stamford Bridge sea change to sustain title challenge

Premier League: Chelsea need Stamford Bridge sea change to sustain title challenge

Tuchel’s team have fared better on their travels since he took charge, a dysfunction that has to change if they are to outdo Manchester City and Liverpool

Thomas Tuchel was understandably disappointed after Chelsea were beaten 3-2 by West Ham United last weekend.

The German had seen his team twice lose a lead — 1-0 and 2-1 — to lose 3-2 in the dying embers against David Moyes’ team, with individual mistakes and a failure to take the game by the scruff of the neck playing a part in the eventual defeat.

Regardless of the defeat and initial dissatisfaction, the 48-year-old was keen not to overreact after Chelsea’s second Premier League defeat of the season.

West Ham defender Arthur Masuaku (L) celebrates with midfielder Michail Antonio after scoring the Premier League winner against Chelsea at the weekend.

“If we won this game, which was possible, nobody would have given us this title and if we lose it like today, I don’t think that anybody else gets it after this weekend,” the Blues boss reflected after the Hammers’ win. “It’s just another example that you need to stay focused and take care about the details because in the details you have to improve.”

In a sense, the manager was right. Despite losing their slender lead at the top of the table by day’s end — Manchester City and Liverpool’s wins saw the West London outfit drop to third — they are only two points adrift of the Cityzens and one behind the Reds.

Having said that, eagle-eyed observers will state that the reigning European champions have picked up only two wins from their last five games, dropping seven points in three games.

A closer look at the games in which the West Londoners have failed to gain maximum points may point to a concerning situation particularly as there is little margin for error in this year’s race.

Successive 1-1 draws on the trot at Stamford Bridge against Burnley and Manchester United have had short-term implications for Tuchel’s team, who would still sit at the apex of the table had they picked up victories.

Chelsea celebrate Jorginho's equaliser against Manchester United
Chelsea celebrate Jorginho’s equaliser against Manchester United

Chelsea had a staggering 49 shots in the aforementioned games, while their combined expected goals (xG) of 5.1 indicate chances were created—further evidenced by the six open-play big chances in both games.

It points to a lack of a killer instinct but highlights the wider tendency to drop points on home turf under Tuchel since January.

Since the former Paris Saint-Germain boss took charge in January, the Blues have won only nine of 17 matches in their backyard, playing out five draws and losing three times. Compare this with results on their travels where 12 wins have been claimed, while three stalemates and two defeats make up the rest of the 17 away fixtures.

While the absence of supporters for the majority of 2020/21 played a part in a high volume of away wins for teams in general, the Blues have picked up only four victories from seven despite fans returning this term, claiming only two victories in their most recent five matches at the Bridge.

Last season served as an outlier for the importance of a side’s home form in maintaining a league challenge, but preceding campaigns dominated by the sides the Blues look to supplant emphasise it greatly.

Liverpool claimed the title in 2019/20 racking up 18 wins from 19 (drawing one) and Manchester City’s two recent PL successes have seen them win 18 of 19 matches in 18/19 (losing one) while they picked up 16 victories in 17/18 (drawing twice and falling to a sole defeat).

Liverpool claimed the title in 2019/20 on the back of sterling home form
Liverpool claimed the title in 2019/20 on the back of sterling home form

Indeed, a cursory look at Chelsea’s PL wins in the 2010s underscore the significance of a fortress-like home form throughout the season.

Antonio Conte’s Blues dropped only six points at the Bridge in 16/17 (two defeats), Jose Mourinho claimed the title in his second spell at the club winning 15 and drawing four times, while Carlo Ancelotti’s iteration won 17 of 19 matches in 2010.

Interestingly, Mourinho’s first PL win in 2004/05 saw the West London club accrue one more point on their travels (48-47). However, this was not a significant margin and the following campaign in which they dropped only two points in their backyard indicates the abnormality of the year before.

Jose Mourinho's 2004-2005 Chelsea team was beaten just once in the Premier League and was extremely tight at home
Jose Mourinho’s 2004-2005 Chelsea team was beaten just once in the Premier League and was extremely tight at home

This current Blues iteration has already dropped points in three games in front of their fans, which does not bode well for a title push.

Leeds United are this weekend’s visitors to the Bridge, and Tuchel’s team will target their first home win in three with visits of Everton and Brighton & Hove Albion to come before the New Year.

While the Chelsea boss may feel the recent results should not cause heightened panic, the precedent suggests the Blues must find the necessary consistency at Stamford Bridge to sustain this year’s Premier League challenge.

Seye Omidiora is a passionate football writer and pundit whose deep appreciation for the beautiful game exceeds the usual. He is currently a columnist for Goal Africa and has previously written for Vital Football UK, IBCity Info and Opera News.

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Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf.

Olafare Michael Oluwabukolahttps://t.me/notchplug
A Nationa Diploma holder in Computer Science at LENS POLYTECHNIC Offa, a full-time blogger, beatmaker, modern graphics designer, talent manager, and a vocalist
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