What we saw from Chelsea on Sunday afternoon is definitely not something Blues supporters have become accustomed to, but equally, it’s not been that much of a rarity, either.
Chelsea were beaten 1-0 at Everton via a second-half Richarlison strike – which means they have now lost on their last four visits to Goodison Park.
The atmosphere at Goodison made it seem like Everton’s biggest match of the season, and it could well prove to be considering their situation right now, but for Chelsea, it seemed like one too many games in their massively compacted schedule.
Thomas Tuchel didn’t hide his disagreement with the packed fixture list last month.
“Speaking after the first-leg Champions League quarter-final defeat to Real Madrid, Tuchel said:”I was a bit shocked when I saw the number of games we have played in 2022.
I saw in the last days, we were the team with Liverpool who have played by far the most matches in England and Europe.
Now, as Tuchel looks to put the shambles on Merseyside behind him, the German coach has a rare opportunity to pump some much-needed blood back into his players‘ legs.
Chelsea’s next match is at home against Wolves, on Saturday, May 7.
This means a full week of training at Cobham for Tuchel and his men.
A rare week off – and it probably couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for the Blues.
Of course, despite ‘week off‘ just being written, it will be far from that on the training pitch.
There’s plenty for Tuchel to do with his players, and with that being said, football.
London puts together a mini to-do list for the Chelsea head coach.
It’s now been three matches since Timo Werner last found the back of the net for Chelsea, and the German forward is beginning to be questioned again.
Werner shocked virtually everyone when he came into the side last month and netted four goals in as many matches against Southampton, Real Madrid, Crystal Palace and Arsenal, respectively.
The 26-year-old was beginning to show glimpses of why Chelsea spent almost £50million on his services in the summer of 2020, but in the last three matches, his performances have gone back to what we saw before.
Against Everton on Sunday, the Germany international could not find a way to become involved in the match at all.
His countryman Kai Havertz has also performance levels plummet in recent matches.
The 22-year-old has not found the back of the net in the past six matches, with his last goal in the 6-0 win against Southampton almost a month ago.
Havertz had a handful of great chances to end his mini goal drought against Manchester United last week but was disappointing in his efforts.
This week Chelsea doesn’t have a midweek match, and it should be really beneficial to their German duo, who are both perhaps feeling the impact of the heavy fixture schedule.
Tuchel needs to get them both firing again for the remaining matches of the 2021/22 season.
Tuchel made that crystal clear in his post-match press conference on Sunday afternoon.
“No , what can I do? The ball is free, then [we] give a goal away,” the Chelsea head coach said.
The mistake Tuchel was eluding to was from Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta, who gifted Richarlison a one-on-one with Edouard Mendy, and the Everton attacker made no mistake.
Since the start of the 2020/21 campaign, Chelsea have made 14 errors leading to goals in the Premier League – with only Everton, 15, having more.
It’s not something that can be fixed overnight, but a little more time on the training ground could prove instrumental in Tuchel getting his defensive line back to the way it has been in the past.
It’s down to the concentration levels rather than individual ability – something that needs to be drummed into the players‘ heads over the next few days before the Blues welcome Wolves to Stamford Bridge at the weekend.
Reece James has missed a total of 19 matches in all competitions this season for Chelsea because of fitness-related problems.
The 22-year-old, since the end of December where he picked up a hamstring strain, has been in and out of the Blues side, with his most recent return to action being against Manchester United last week.
James was fantastic on his return at Old Trafford, but understandably he couldn’t maintain those standards against Everton a few days later.
He’s so important to Chelsea that even a 90-95 per cent fit, James is still one of the first names on Tuchel’s team sheet