Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle United. Three points gathered and a breakthrough into the top four of the Premier League. Thomas Tuchel has now yet to lose a match as Chelsea manager, even if his starting eleven often contain some surprises for many fans. Now that Chelsea have built sufficient momentum for their top four charge, confidence has to be much higher within the squad. Overall, this was a big match and victory even if the opponent was far from stellar. Below are five things learned from the match.
Abraham suffers injury setback Vs Newcastle United
Tammy Abraham was injured early in the match against Newcastle United and was replaced by Olivier Giroud. The tackle on Abraham occurred in the box and VAR flippantly dismissed the penalty claims almost as soon as the claims were made. Abraham was left clutching his ankle and screaming in pain from the hard challenge. It appeared that Abraham got his foot stuck in between the legs of Jamal Lascelles, and then toppled over and into the ground, with his foot caught and his ankle looking to take the brunt of the forceful tackle.
Unfortunately it looks like Abraham could be out for a while. If the injury has caused serious damage to the ankle ligaments it might be a lengthy period on the sidelines for the Englishman
Chelsea control top four fate
With the 3 points from this match, Chelsea now control their own fate for the top four. This is something that seems almost hard to believe given the turmoil and doom that surrounded the club just several weeks prior. Many fans probably expected improvement with Tuchel – as is common when a new manager comes in – but the fact that Tuchel has aided Chelsea in skyrocketing up the league standings has to be highly encouraging for all Chelsea fans.
Granted the competition has not been the greatest, wins are wins, and points are points. The league standings do not care if a team beats a bad squad 4-0 or 1-0: the result is still 3 points. After beating Newcastle, Chelsea are now above Liverpool and West Ham (on goal difference and head-to-head) and can go on a run to firmly cement their spot in the top four and to bring Champions League football for the upcoming 2021/2022 season.
Solid performance from Kepa
Kepa returned to the starting XI to the surprise of almost every Chelsea fan. Many fans saw this as an odd move given that Edouard Mendy has rarely put a glove wrong this season, but there have been some mistakes of late from the Senegalese goalkeeper. A plethora of fans on social media claimed that the board is forcing Tuchel to play Kepa in order to recoup a larger transfer value for the Spanish goalkeeper. It is highly doubtful that a manager (Tuchel) who has openly stated it is win or get fired by the board, would make his starting XIs based around advice from Marina Granovskaia.
Despite all of the brouhaha about the potential ulterior motives for the decision to start Kepa, he had a very good game. Two saves stand out: Kepa’s save from Jonjo Shelvey’s free kick and his shuffle, lunge, and diving save to just paw a headed shot away before it tucked away into the back of the left side netting of Kepa’s goal. This was a top drawer save by Kepa, and there is reason to believe his confidence has returned. He even turned on replies for this Twitter account again, and no matter what your opinion of Kepa is, every Chelsea fan should be supporting the keeper in this moment.
Turbo Timo is turning the corner after scoring against Newcastle United
Timo Werner has cut a frustrated and dejected figure several times in a Chelsea shirt. Whether it is missing 1v1s with goalkeepers, missing tap-ins from point blank range, or failing to offer much from the wing with Lampard, it has been a frustrating, fledgling season for the young German goal scorer. However, Werner has got up to (goalscoring) speed lately and has been involved in Chelsea’s last five Premier League goals.
This match against Newcastle United showed that Werner is turning the corner in form and goal involvements as he was lively throughout. Although he missed two decent chances in the match, the most important factor is that he finally got on the score sheet. This very well could be the start of a large return of goals from the German, which is something the fanbase has been yearning over for months now. Tuchel has re-invigorated Werner and his goalscoring form will need to continue to take full-flight as the real tests are quickly approaching in the schedule.
Thomas Tuchel breaks down low blocks
Thomas Tuchel has arguably faced all low block squads so far: Wolves, Burnley, Spurs, Sheffield United, Barnsley, and Newcastle United. Despite the competition mostly sitting on the back foot, one thing is certain: Tuchel knows how to effectively break down low blocks and neutralize the resulting counter attacks from low blocks.
Tuchel’s insistence on moving the ball quickly on the ground with simple, effective passes is presenting many problems for low block sides. When that fact is coupled with the passing patterns of building from the back – moving it wide to the wing back or forwards/attacking midfielders and then playing cutback passes – is proving to be highly effective against the average Premier League team.
It remains to be seen how this pattern of play and coaching philosophy will hold up against teams that press high and hard throughout the match, but Chelsea fans nonetheless have to be quite encouraged by Tuchel’s acumen in retaining the ball with slower build up plays that lead to high percentage chances via cutbacks into the opponent’s box.
Written by Travis Flock @Crossroads_CFC
Edited by Tom Coley @tomcoley49
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