90min
Chelsea

Thomas Tuchel, an incredible statistic & just how far Chelsea have come

Max Cooper
A new manager bounce like no other
A new manager bounce like no other / Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images
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Hands up, who backed Chelsea to comfortably finish in the top four of the Premier League and book their place in two major finals back in mid-January?

The truth is, not a lot of us could have even dreamt of such a turnaround from a side incapable of keeping clean sheets, filled with in-house feuds and languishing in ninth position in the top flight.

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But then, along came Thomas Tuchel. The German took over from the drowning Frank Lampard, provided all staff and crew with sturdy armbands and a rubber dingy, and set sail for the safety of calmer waters.

That journey has gone more swimmingly than any of us could have ever anticipated. In fact, the Blues are now completely and utterly water tight. Their defence, which had conceded 24 goals in Lampard's 19 games in charge, has transformed into the stingiest backline in Europe - except for when they have to face West Bromwich Albion, of course.

That 5-2 disaster aside, Chelsea are now one of the most organised teams in the business, and nothing demonstrates that more than their success against the other giants on the continent.

As ESPN rightly pointed out, Tuchel's men boast an incredible defensive record when facing their fellow heavyweights, and the only blot on their copybook coming in the form of Raheem Sterling's strike in the 2-1 win over Manchester City on Saturday.

Tuchel has now played against Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid (twice), Pep Guardiola (twice), Jurgen Klopp, Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Diego Simeone (twice) and come away with eight wins from those nine matches.

In that time, they have conceded only two goals, shutting out Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Atletico Madrid with frightening ease. Their transformation from a defensive shambles to a sturdy ship has carried over into the Premier League, too, where they have produced 11 shut-outs in 16 matches, carrying them to the brink of Champions League qualification.

The turnaround has been simply stunning, and the players are unrecognisable from the gaggle which lacked any identity or tactical understanding under Lampard only four months ago.

The back three has been frankly terrifying, with the likes of Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta becoming key figures, after barely featuring in the previous regime.

Thomas Tuchel, Timo Werner
Tuchel is working wonders at Stamford Bridge / Pool/Getty Images

This improvement has not come at the expense of Chelsea's youth stars, either. Billy Gilmour has worked his way into contention under Tuchel, Reece James is a regular fixture at right-wing back, and while Mason Mount was Lampard's special little guy, the England star's game has come on leaps and bounds under the German's tutelage.

So, all in all, the world could not be rosier for the Blues. A Champions League final against Man City beckons, and they'll hope that their last-minute winner on Saturday will have caused Guardiola to have even more doubts ahead of the big clash, having now lost two in two against Tuchel this campaign.

Chelsea could also win the FA Cup, and secure a top-four finish with huge ease. The key takeaway however, is that this is no ordinary new-manager-bounce. In fact, it's not a bounce at all. Tuchel has plugged the gaps in their sinking ship, and possesses all the tools to captain them to glory.

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