Chelsea buckle demolishing attacking threat, Juve was just one case
When both Chelse forwards Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku limped off in Chelsea’s Champions League win over Malmö in October with injuries, there was genuine concern that their injuries could derail the Blues’ fine start to the season and affect their impressive goal scoring form.
Two of Chelsea’s only options to play through the middle at the front were out for weeks, with some big games on the horizon including, Juventus, Manchester United.
Just where would the goals come from? Well, everywhere it turns out as the Blues ran rampant and demolished teams even without the two forwards.
Aside from the frustrating draw with Burnley and the reverse fixture at Malmö where goals were hard to come by (although they still scored, thanks to a brilliant play by Callum Hudson-Odoi to find Hakim Ziyech), Chelsea has reached a new attacking plane in the absence of their two main strikers – culminating in the demolition of Juventus on Tuesday night.
It is such a rare thing in football for a side to adapt and fill the gaps so fast and easily. In the time that Lukaku and Werner have been out, Chelsea has evolved and posed a threat from absolutely everywhere as results have shown including a 7-0 victory over Norwich City.
That was evidenced again in the 4-0 destruction of the Bianconeri, as four goalscorers from four different areas of the pitch did the damage to the visitors; the first goal arrived through center-back Trevoh Chalobah making his first start in the Champions League, who showed a striker’s instinct and poise to fire a loose ball beyond Wojciech Szczesny on the swivel.
In-form wing-back Reece James made it 2-0 in what was a dominant second half for the hosts. He took down Matthijs de Ligt’s poor clearance on his chest, let the ball bounce, and then thundered it beyond the hapless Szczesny to score a staggering goal for the blues.
James – who is undoubtedly among the best in the world in his position at the moment – has epitomized the ‘one for all’ attitude head coach Thomas Tuchel has instilled at the club, emerging as the club’s top goalscorer this season, and also the top provider but never, ever shirking his defensive responsibilities. He was key in keeping Alex Sandro and Federico Chiesa quiet throughout proceedings at Stamford Bridge, despite managing to attack at every opportunity.
The third was finished by Callum Hudson-Odoi but created by a mazy dribble from Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who left the entirety of the Juve backline in his wake before laying the ball on a plate for the winger.
The back to the front of goalscorers was calmly rounded off by the returning Werner, who was handed a tap-in after a fine low cross from Hakim Ziyech. James was impressively involved in the build-up, winning the ball before pinging a pinpoint cross-field pass to the Moroccan to provide the assist.
A pleasing sub-narrative was that the first three names on the scoresheet were Chelsea academy graduates, as was the assister for the third, Ruben Loftus-Cheek – a man who has resurfaced under Thomas Tuchel.
Given it’s something that has clearly been meticulously coached down to the finest detail, Tuchel’s ability to get this level of attacking output from his whole squad in a time of need has been nothing short of a stroke of genius.
The positive thing is that Werner returned with a goal and Lukaku was fit enough for the bench as he edges closer to a return. With those two in the lineup, this side could evolve into something even more threatening.
Notably, Chelsea has now scored a record 40 goals in all competitions this campaign, with a record 15 of those goals coming from defenders only.
This side is already the favourites when they host Manchester United on Sunday, 28 November at Stamford Bridge in what will be an interesting fixture as Chelsea look to strengthen their lead at the top.
Should the Blues continue with their impressive goal-scoring ways, it is inevitable to see them lift the Premier League trophy comes March next year, with the busiest and crucial part of the Premier League season – the Christmas period, fast approaching.
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