How quickly things change at Chelsea Football Club.
Preceding the Manchester City game Thomas Tuchel’s Blues were flying high, they looked like the complete outfit. Clinical in attack, imperious in defence with one of the best tactical minds forging us towards certain title glory. Now there are doubts and slightly awkward questions to face following consecutive defeats against Man City and Juventus.
But this should be seen as a blip against what are – on reputation alone – two of Europe’s toughest sides, there is light emerging and a chance for some redemption.
When the fixtures for the Premier League season were released back in June, the opening run for Chelsea looked tricky.
Trips to The Emirates, Anfield and Spurs were standout clashes. Plus a home encounter with a buoyant Aston Villa side who Chelsea failed to beat last year, all culminating in a title clash with Pep Guardiola’s Champions.
The challenge looked slightly steep given the previous history, but to come out of that opening run only a point off the summit is still impressive. I highly doubt many Chelsea fans would have scoffed at that proposed return of 13 points before a ball was kicked. The reward now is a run of fixtures against teams of lower quality, relegation fears and poor early season form.
These are games a club of Chelsea’s stature should be winning and can not only put Tuchel’s side back on the right path but in a stronger position come the next big clash with Manchester United at the end of November.
Southampton begin the run at home on Saturday afternoon. A side who are yet to win this season, and despite picking up an unexpected point at The Etihad a fortnight ago, have had severe goalscoring issues since the departure of Danny Ings. Chelsea drew both times against Ralph Hasenhüttl’s Saints last season, but this is a game the Blues must be victorious in as Liverpool face Manchester City a day later.
Following the international break, Chelsea face the most awkward of tests in this upcoming run away to a Brentford side causing upsets and showing little fear since being promoted.
Their attacking threat is probably best demonstrated by the fact only Manchester City have matched the Bees ability to win every game on xG (Expected Goals) so far this season. For whatever you think about expected metrics, it does show Thomas Frank’s side will attack the Blues and know how to test the best defences – putting three past Liverpool in a manic 3-3 draw. However, this is a game the Blues can show their professionalism and prosper where others have faltered before.
Then comes – with all respect – the easiest looking game in this run. Norwich at home will probably give Chelsea the best chance to flex their attacking muscles against a Canaries side still without a point. Already shipping 16 goals in their first six league games, this simply must be a win as we head into November to face Newcastle away and Burnley at home before the final international break.
Burnley have achieved some decent results at the Bridge, most notably in their 3-2 win back in 2017, but in recent seasons the game has been dominated by the Blues and should be this term again. Every Chelsea supporter fears the trip up to St. James Park given our inability to put away some woeful Newcastle sides down the years. Though last season’s comfortable 2-0 win on Tyneside should hopefully be the start of the end to this baffling curse.
These next five will not only likely be dominated by Chelsea in possession, but it should also give Thomas Tuchel the platform to be bolder with his selections. Maybe veer away from the 3-4-3 if necessary to add more numbers further up the field.
After a run of games without a goal, Romelu Lukaku will be licking his lips with the chance to add to his tally of four goals so far.
The attacking talent behind Lukaku of Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic all have chances to imprint their marks onto games and show an attacking fluidity that has been sadly missing so far. The run could also present some fringe figures the chance for minutes with the added Champions League group games against Malmo and a League Cup tie at home to Southampton.
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Focusing on the Premier League, this is where Chelsea can lay down a marker they can be efficient in winning the games they are supposed to, which has been a flaw of ours for some time.
There are reasons to be frustrated with recent setbacks, but the upcoming weeks will hopefully give the Blues a platform to excite and prove why many feel they are serious challengers to Guardiola’s throne come May.
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