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​Analysis: Can Thomas Tuchel lead Chelsea to a top-four finish?

When Frank Lampard arrived at Chelsea in 2019, a large portion of the club's fans silently hoped that he would be the first manager to serve under Roman Abramovich on a long-term basis.

That hope was fuelled by his status as a club legend, but as we've seen over the years, an amazing playing career doesn't necessarily translate into an illustrious managerial career.

Few clubs are as unforgiving as Chelsea - despite Lampard's successful first season, a disappointing second term has resulted in him getting replaced by Thomas Tuchel.

So far, Tuchel has looked promising. He's garnered four points in his first two games in charge of the club, but will he be able to lead Chelsea to a top four finish by the end of the season?


Tuchel's Expectations

Going into the 2020/2021 season, Lampard was expected to launch a viable title challenge.

Obviously, at this stage of the season, Chelsea cannot realistically challenge the likes of Manchester City and Manchester United for the title anymore, but a top four finish is still up for grabs.

But because of the manner with which Tuchel was appointed, his job is unlikely to depend on whether or not he can secure a top four finish for the club this season.

From the looks of things, the German has merely been appointed to perform damage control for the rest of the campaign - his real test will come in the 2021/2022 season.

That being said, leading Chelsea to a top four finish is likely to score Tuchel some extra points with the board, so it would make sense that, while he's not necessarily expected to - Tuchel's primary focus will be on breaking into the top four.


Things To Take Into Consideration

As far as securing a top four finish goes, this is arguably the most competitive Premier League season since the league's inception in 1992.

Chelsea currently sits in 7th place, six points away from 4th-placed Leicester.

On the one hand, the Blues are only a couple of wins away from breaking into the top four but on the other hand, literally every team currently sitting between 5th to 10th place, is also only a few wins away from entering the top four.

Some of these teams, including Everton, have only played 19 games this season, compared to Chelsea's 21 - and if they win their two outstanding games, they could climb above Chelsea thus putting a massive dent in Tuchel's top four chances.

With the way the Premier League table is currently set, securing a top four finish will rely on sheer consistency and form.

Far too many teams are in touching distance of 4th-place - hence, for Chelsea to rise above all those teams, they need to hit a rich vein of form, and maintain it over the next four months, widening the gap between them and the rest of the league's top-four aspirants.

It's easier said than done, though, but it is possible. To make it so, Tuchel will need to bring the best out of the players at his disposal, more specifically, Timo Werner, in order to have a real shot at making it into the top four.



The "Werner" Conundrum

There's no way to sugar coat it, the first half of Werner's season has been a flop.

Werner has scored just four goals in 20 Premier League appearances which is a far cry from what was expected of him at the start of the campaign.

He's short on confidence and he's currently on a 12-game goal drought, however if he's able to experience a sudden burst of form, he could become the primary catalyst for Chelsea's top four finish.

At the moment, Chelsea have a low goalscoring output. They've scored just four goals in their last five games - with these numbers, it's hard to imagine Chelsea breaking into 4th-place, hence, now more than ever, the club needs Werner to justify his price tag.

An in-form Werner is a more fearsome forward than Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham.

With Tuchel at the helm, perhaps Werner will be able to dig deep and rediscover the form that saw him put on par with Robert Lewandowski in Germany.

That form will be extremely crucial to Chelsea's top four chances, because otherwise, the odds of Chelsea leapfrogging Everton, Tottenham and Leicester City, all of whom have in-form goalscorers, is incredibly low.

An alternative solution to the Werner conundrum would've been to acquire a new forward in January, but considering the transfer window is now closed, Tuchel will have to rely on Abraham and Giroud, while praying that somehow, someway, Werner finds his form.

Phillip Ekuwem
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Phillip Ekuwem

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