As Jorginho walked around the edge of the pitch at The King Power Stadium he passed the travelling Chelsea support who serenaded him with adoration.
“Jorginhoooooooo” was on loop as the Italian clapped back in appreciation.
The Italian had just been forced off with a knock to end another masterful display in the centre of Thomas Tuchel’s midfield. There is a certainty about Jorginho’s position at Stamford Bridge, more so than even under Maurizio Sarri where his substitution was once sarcastically cheered by supporters inside Stamford Bridge.
Jorginho is playing the best football of his career and his Ballon d’Or nomination is proof of Tuchel’s vital work.
An area that had proved very challenging for Frank Lampard to resolve was quickly fixed by Tuchel in his now customary 3-4-2-1 formation, allowing Jorginho the discover his best form since signing from Napoli in 2018.
One of the persistent issues under Lampard was the inability to prevent counter-attacking opportunities for the opposition.
Quite regularly large gaps would appear between Chelsea’s midfield and centre-backs, causing panic and rushed decision making.
Jorginho was at times fazed out under Lampard due to his frequent inability to defend in larger spaces, something Tuchel’s system quickly rectified.
The 29-year-old’s strength is his metronomic ability in a short passing game, filling gaps to reclaim the ball and help orchestrate the team’s build-up from a deeper position.
Regularly asked to play as a lone holding midfielder exposed Jorginho’s deficiencies under Lampard, usually outpaced and targeted by opposing coaches as a point of weakness to press and get around.
In Lampard’s last league game at Leicester Jorginho was not present but still offered a glimpse into this balance issue which greatly hurt Chelsea consistently.
This shape has allowed Jorginho the protection from the use of wingbacks to close space, an extra defender behind him and the usual partner of N’Golo Kante to allow him the freedom to get on the ball.
Looking into Jorginho’s numbers show the change in role Tuchel has asked his midfielder to fulfil compared to Lampard.
Tactical and statistical Twitter account Expected Chelsea recently dived into his 2021/22 numbers from FBRef to summarise his output so far compared to recent campaigns.
Jorginho – 2021/22.
– He has transitioned from ball-progressor to a defensive ball-circulator.
– Moving the ball forward less under Tuchel than Sarri/Lampard, appears to be a tactical decision to cover his flaws and highlight his strengths
– Similarities to 16/17 Matic
Even if Jorginho is occupying a more risk-averse role there have been very recent examples of his brilliant vision to execute some wonderful passes.
Against Leicester his fast thinking to play in Ben Chilwell almost led to the opening goal of the afternoon.
Whilst in the Champions League win over Juventus his lovely chipped pass evaded several opposing bodies to find the feet of Callum Hudson-Odoi running into the box.
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Overall Tuchel has simultaneously this year been able to rectify one of Chelsea’s previous weaknesses whilst allowing Jorginho to become one of Europe’s highest performing midfielders.
Against Leicester and Juventus he performed like a player worthy of being one of the main contenders for the Ballon d’Or.
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