The fires Tuchel must put out to avoid horror end to the season

Making peace with Tammy Abraham, coaxing results from his goal-shy stars and addressing the issues out wide… The fires Thomas Tuchel must put out to avoid a horror ending to the season with Chelsea

  • Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea tenure is currently finely poised on a knife-edge 
  • What has been a dream start could quickly turn into a living nightmare 
  • Chelsea could yet lose two huge cup finals and miss out on a top four finish 
  • Sportsmail examines the fires Tuchel must put out in order to steady the ship 

To be a Chelsea fan right now is perhaps quite an unnerving, and very confusing, experience.

Things are going so well, yet at the same time they’re not.

It’s a very unique situation which rests precariously on a knife-edge. Chelsea’s season could end gloriously, as one for the ages, yet it could likewise become a complete disaster.

With just two Premier League matches remaining, and a Champions League final to contend, the stakes are at an all-time high.

Why? Well, having just lost the FA Cup final to underdogs Leicester, Chelsea now face a nail-biting rematch against their tormentors in order to ensure a top four finish is achieved for next season.

Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea career has the potential to turn from dreamland into a nightmare

After a solid rise under the German, Chelsea could lose two finals and miss out on the top four

Thomas Tuchel has been widely praised for the work he has done at Stamford Bridge after taking over. The form of the Blues, largely, has been sensational.

Yet, should Chelsea come unstuck against Leicester or Aston Villa in the remaining league ties, and bow down to Manchester City in the all-English European final, a season which promised so much could quite literally yield nothing at all.

It feels like a crazy game of roulette, where Chelsea have pushed all of the chips onto one square and are now waiting for the little silver ball to rest.

With arguably his most important, and toughest, few weeks as a manager ahead of him, Tuchel has fires which quickly need extinguishing in order to prevent the end of his first campaign turning into a horror show. Sportsmail took a closer look…

Tuchel finds himself at odds with striker Tammy Abraham and it is a messy situation which needs addressing sooner rather than later.

The England international was snubbed by Tuchel for the FA Cup final and omitted from the Chelsea squad, which the German said was a ‘difficult decision,’ but it appears to have left a stinging wound.

Abraham is Chelsea’s top scorer in the competition, and his girlfriend, Leah Monroe, voiced her concerns over his axing from the squad.

Tammy Abraham was controversially left out of the Blues FA Cup final squad by Tuchel

In a now-deleted post on Instagram, Monroe slammed the decision, writing: ‘How on earth do you make the decision to leave your top goal scorer out of the squad for a final!?!

‘The same person who even scored the goals to actually qualify for this competition? It’s not making any sense to me whatsoever. Not even the bench?! This has to be a joke.’

The unrest comes at a pivotal time for Tuchel, who needs everybody pulling together during times of adversity.

Breaking his silence in a short Twitter post, Abraham wrote: ‘It hurts but we still have unfinished business. Thank you for your support, good to have you back.’ 

Lingering woes from the FA Cup final loss to Leicester, along with agitated players within the ranks, does not make for a solid recipe for Champions League final planning.

Abraham’s girlfriend Leah Monroe took to Instagram to vent her frustration over his omission

While it is clear that Tuchel seems to value the likes of Timo Werner, Olivier Giroud and Chelsea’s other forward options ahead of Abraham, alienating the 23-year-old at this stage would serve to be a bad call.

Some members within the Chelsea boardroom may view the striker as an asset in the upcoming transfer market, for the Blues to recoup funds in order to further rebuild. Yet few clubs are going to express a heavy interest – or pay a premium figure – for a player who is out of sorts and lacking all game time.

Tuchel needs to put the situation to bed and get Abraham back on board. As several previous Chelsea managers have found out, disharmony in the squad usually only ends one certain way. 

Goal drought

While Chelsea had been experiencing something of an upturn under Tuchel, it is curious to note that in the last month or so the goals have started to dwindle.

In many cases, the Blues have still be able to squeeze a result from matches. Still, there is now a building body of evidence that Chelsea are letting themselves down in this department.

Much has been made of Werner’s highly underwhelming start to life in the Premier League, but the former Leipzig man remains Chelsea’s joint-top scorer with 12.

Level with him is none other than the out of favour Abraham, which poses the concerning question of just what was Tuchel thinking in leaving him out of the Wembley showdown.

Timo Werner’s struggles have been well documented yet he has still scored the most goals

The Blues failed to score against Leicester (aside from the controversial VAR offside call) and lost the game by inches as a result.

The same thing occurred recently against Arsenal, with Mikel Arteta’s side pulling off a shock win over their London rivals.

In April, Chelsea scraped a 1-0 win against a ten-man West Ham side, while failed to find the back of the net in a goalless draw with Brighton and lost 1-0 at home to Porto (though progressed to the Champions League semis on aggregate).

When Chelsea are on song under Tuchel they look well-drilled and pretty formidable, but it’s only a matter of time before the emerging goal drought becomes a real issue. 

Jarring Jorginho 

A problem looks to be nibbling away at the Chelsea midfield, and this revolves around Jorginho.

The former Napoli man is trusted by Tuchel and regularly deployed in the heart of midfield, but his influence in matches has come under the spotlight once again.

Large sections of the Chelsea fan base remain unconvinced by the offerings of the Italy international, with games appearing to pass him by without influence.

Playmaker Jorginho is regularly backed by Tuchel but seems to be going through a tough spell

The 29-year-old faced heavy criticism for his recent showing in Chelsea’s 1-0 home defeat to Arsenal, in which he was left red-faced after almost passing the ball directly into his own net.

It led directly to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang creating a chance for Emile Smith Rowe to tap home the game’s only goal.

Jorginho didn’t recover, and was accused of putting in a pedestrian performance and lacking the necessary bite needed to push the tie back into his side’s favour.

What’s more, Jorginho was deployed alongside academy prospect Billy Gilmour, and was held to account for what some fans believed was a shirking of responsibilities, and a failure to guide the Scottish starlet through the match.

Jorginho’s issues were made worse on Saturday, after his Leicester counterpart Youri Tielemans marauded through the centre of the pitch before unleashing a piledriver of an effort to win the match in style.

Cameras picked up Jorginho pointing at his team-mates while Tielemans was in possession, instead of rushing in to close down the Belgian.

By the time Jorginho had issued his commands, Tielemans had already opted to shoot and goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga would be given zero chance.  

Jorginho (centre of shot, arms outstretched) was criticised for his role in Youri Tielemans’ goal

Opinion has been divided regarding whether Jorginho was to blame, though the jury appears to be unanimous when it comes to the subject of the midfielder’s all round performances.

Recently, Jorginho personally hit back at his doubters, outlining to ESPN: ‘If they don’t [understand my role] by now, they don’t understand football.’ 

Chelsea, though, need more from the Italian, who was the golden boy under Maurizio Sarri at Napoli. 

There, he proved beyond doubt that he can be the fulcrum of a team if used in the correct manner.

So far, despite Chelsea’s efforts, this has not been achieved. 

Flanking issues

Tuchel was always going to have an issue with squad selection after being appointed as boss midway through a campaign.

It is a highly unenviable situation. Calls have to be made on who plays and who doesn’t, yet simultaneously the club must still continue to perform on the pitch and win games.

At no point yet has Tuchel had the privilege of trial and error football, like most managers have during pre-season or in the early stages of cup competition.

Instead, Tuchel has quickly had to make ruthless calls on what works right now, and what doesn’t.

Tuchel has had little opportunity to tinker with his squad and it has cost the Blues on occasion

With this in mind, it is easy to see why an issue has emerged on the flanks.

The introduction of Ben Chilwell against his old club Leicester in the final was quite telling. The England youngster has been in and out of the starting XI, yet found the back of the net at Wembley before VAR intervened.

It is a frustrating situation, given Chelsea do have a depth of talented wide players yet Tuchel’s go-to formation can sometimes prohibit this.

Rolling out a back three, with Reece James and Chilwell or Marcos Alonso as wing-backs, Chelsea can sometimes lose their rhythm.

Against Arsenal this saw the Blues ultimately gift the game to their rivals, offering up glorious chances which the Gunners gladly tucked away.

It’s a nuisance for Tuchel, but not something which he will struggle to figure out. A re-energised Chelsea will likely be hell bent on revenge against Leicester on Tuesday, which would serve as a great momentum builder heading to Villa Park for the season-ender.

Tuchel could yet have the crowing glory of an immediate Champions League victory as Chelsea boss, but in order to do so it’s time for a spot of firefighting. 

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