CHELSEA 2020/21 SEASON REVIEW
Chelsea started the new season on a high, beating Brighton Hove & Albion 3-1 with limited pre-season due to effects of the pandemic, after spending £220 million+ in the summer recruiting six new arrivals straight into the first squad. The indicators suggested that Frank Lampard, the then-Chelsea manager, was working on something special with this Chelsea team.
Chelsea, however, began to revert to their old ways, with erratic performances that saw them drift away from their status as top two rivals. Chelsea should have been out of contention for the title after home losses to Liverpool and draws against West Bromwich Albion, Southampton, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur. However, in a unique season like this one, Chelsea remained in third place despite losing one and drawing four of their first six games; unfortunately, they had already been knocked out of the Carabao Cup on penalties by Spurs. There was one less trophy to contend for.
Following a blistering performance at home to Leeds United in December, Chelsea experienced severe injuries and player loss of form. Hakim Ziyech limped out with a hamstring injury in that Leeds United game, and over the next few games, Chelsea had only two victories and a draw in eight games, dropping the 10th position, 9 points behind 3rd-placed Leicester City and with a meager 29 points from 19 games.
These series of results consequently cost Frank Lampard his job as Chelsea manager and in stepped new manager Thomas Tuchel, hired to continue in his stead.
The news of his sack brought a lot of mixed reactions as the fanbase also split on opinions. However, that didn’t affect the team as Tuchel began tweaking his new squad to bring out the best of their individual qualities. Initially reverting to a back three, bringing back the old heads into the team whom everyone assumed were not good enough and would be sold under Frank Lampard at any given time. The captain, Azpilicueta, returned into the right center-back position, Antonio Rudiger also replaced Kurt Zouma in the starting lineup and Andreas Christensen replaced the injured vet, Thiago Silva, in the middle of the 3. Marcos Alonso also returned to the team despite being cut off from the first team and played regularly. Tuchel’s combination of defensive solidity, superb passing ability, and counter-pressing made Chelsea a very difficult team not only to break down but to play against. Conceding only two (2) goals in his first ten games and keeping eight (8) clean sheets in the process, while also progressing in the FA Cup and the Champions League, but they’d only scored 11 goals in those 10 games, compared to Lampard’s 22 goals scored in his first 10 games.
Tuchel began to adopt a highly professional Chelsea team, one that gave nothing away and was more concerned with efficiency and winning than with the lively, unexpected, and thrilling football created by Frank Lampard’s side.
Chelsea’s professional play had positive results, particularly in the Champions League, when they advanced to the final after defeating opponents like Atletico Madrid, Porto, and Real Madrid. They also made it to the FA Cup final, losing to Leicester City due to their ineffectiveness in front of goal.
Chelsea has concluded the season in uninspiring fashion though, letting 3rd place slip to Liverpool after bad results towards the end of the season, losing three of their last four games in all competitions. They will do well not to allow their recent form to affect them in the champions league final, so they can finish the season not just on a high but with a piece of silverware after losing to Leicester City in the FA cup final. However, clinching champions league football for next season is an excellent basis to continue to develop as a team, particularly in terms of attracting the best talents in the transfer market.
Stars/Flops of the Season
The star of the season undoubtedly has to be Mason Mount. Despite the criticism he received from sections of the fans, doubts about his inclusion in the squad, and accusations of favoritism from Lampard, he held himself and maintained the standard a Chelsea player should establish, producing consistent performances, being a leader on the pitch, leading his team to pressure opponents, create chances and score important goals. Special mention to Antonio Rudiger, N’golo Kante, and Jorginho, who stepped up massively after Frank Lampard’s departure and led the team with their performances, especially against the Madrid teams.
The flops have to be Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, and Kai Havertz. Despite some signs of improvements in the second half of this season, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to say these players failed to live up to the expectations of the fans and the sacked manager. However, there are indications that they could be better next season either here or at another club.
Game(s) of the Season
Definitely the games against Leeds United at home, Crystal Palace away, and the Real Madrid games. These four games demonstrated how good this Chelsea team can be when they’re in form, and all we need now is more consistency to cement our position as one of the best in the world.
What needs to happen this summer
Chelsea did well in their recruitment last summer bringing in a new reliable goalkeeper, left-back, and Thiago Silva at the back. The attackers’ performances still leave a lot to be desired in terms of performances, but this summer transfer window has to be perfect. With Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham poised to leave in the summer, one would assume Thomas Tuchel is willing to stick to Timo Werner and Kai Havertz as his striking options for next season, leaving Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic, and Hakim Ziyech for the 2 No 10 positions. Signing Jadon Sancho should be of utmost priority for Chelsea in the summer. Someone who’s physically reliable unlike Christian Pulisic and can tactically fulfill his role effectively unlike Hakim Ziyech. Player recalls for Ampadu have to be set in place and a lot of player sales must be executed.
What made me smile?
Seeing Mason Mount win our Player of the Year award. Nobody deserved it more. An academy boy who didn’t have the support of some supporters and was expected to lose his spot to the new signings, only for him to routinely outperform them in terms of performance and heart. A true blue.
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