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Chelsea benefit from Thomas Tuchel's tactical tweak

Thomas Tuchel isn't one of the most costly signatures for Chelsea, but he demonstrated in Sunday's 3-0 Tottenham Premier League victory he quickly became one of his best in the club.
The endurance save required from winners of the Champions League to Premier League title competitors requires the kind of management acumen Tuchel delivered to make a tight game a comfortable win.

Of course, it helps if a player on the caliber of N'Golo Kante has a half-time replacement for goallessness off the bench, but Tuchel felt the chance by taking the Mason Mount off his 3-4-2-1 system in a game that Spurs never recovered from.

Few managers from Chelsea have adopted the cutthroat culture of the game such as Tuchel. After a devastating sack in Paris Saint-Germain last year – not least on Christmas Day – he was acutely conscious of nature in clubs which had been designed for success without remorses. Thus the 48-year-old has the zeal of someone who doesn't want to wait for a win, a shy talk of longevity in the here and now.

He came, he saw, he replaced Tottenham. Tuchel spent most of the first half of his foot in the technical field of the visitors, visibly annoyed in the final third with bad decision making. The unrelenting early press of Tottenham harassed Chelsea's three back and the central midfield duo into mistakes that fuel a raucous house crowd was some of this scrambling thinking.

Mount was a special focus of Tuchel's anger, especially in the midst of the time during which he checked back for possession rather than risk a surge forward to maintain a counterattack. It followed a previous occasion, when his ball to Romelu Lukaku was delayed.

Nonetheless, it was a surprise that Mount was replaced at the interval, even though it was the second Saturday in a row, on which Tuchel changed half-time following the horrific debut of Saul Niguez against Aston. Perhaps, however, the message he sent was most significant.
"It seemed we changed the system but we just played it with more belief, more energy, more quality, sharper," Tuchel said. "It was simply too sloppy and not sharp enough in the first half. We relied too much on our skillful play in the first half. We forgot to bring the right attitude and energy to this game.
"This had to change and, well, if you have N'Golo on the bench and you want to step up in these parts of the game, it's the best player to bring on because he is unique and can change any momentum," the Chelsea manager continued.

"So the change appeared to be, in terms of characteristics, a bit more defensive but we wanted to improve our compactness, ball wins, and spirit as a team." The impact was almost immediate. The reshuffle in midfield saw Kante operate slightly deeper than Mount, giving Chelsea a better chance of escaping the Tottenham press. Within four minutes of the second period beginning, the away side was ahead.

Marcus Alonso was just tipped by Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris with a brilliant slide, but an unsigned Thiago Silva was found in the left corner to plant a header into the net. It was another great moment for the Brazilian defender who turned 37 next week.


See also; David De Gea, Jesse Lingard inspire Man United comeback win at West Ham


Over the summer Chelsea was frustrated in their pursuit of Jules Kounde of Seville, choosing not to pay for the center-back release clause of €80 million even though Kurt Zouma joins West Ham, but this decision can be justified by the remaining defenders who were excellent here, defying the pace of mixing up with Son Heung-Min Son through an exquisite positioning and commanding a reasonably high defense

In the meantime Kante is not known for his goal-scoring – his strike that took an evil deflexion from Eric Dier in over 200 matches for Chelsea was only his 12th goal – but the space he was allowed to put on his shot showed further how Tuchel's tweak, with Mateo Kovacic, moved slightly left and shook at the home side.


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