The start of any new managerial reign brings uncertainty but after six weeks of Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea we are beginning to see his plans take shape.
The German has started perfectly in west London, winning six and drawing three of his nine Premier League matches so far and his side have one foot in the Champions League quarter-finals after beating Atletico Madrid last month.
His most recent win came at Stamford Bridge on Monday night when, according to his words, his side ‘completely controlled’ proceedings against top-four rival Everton and secured a 2-0 win.
Thomas Tuchel is yet to lose a game as Chelsea manager after his flying start with the Blues
Since his first game against Wolves on January 27, Tuchel has largely used a 3-4-2-1 system and Chelsea have looked so composed in possession and defensively secure.
Goals may not be flowing freely but Tuchel has already racked up impressive wins over Tottenham, Atletico, Liverpool, Everton and earned a draw with Manchester United.
He also appears to be getting to grips with the players at his disposal, quickly settling on defensive and midfield combinations that he hopes will carry him to results before he can stamp his authority on his squad in the summer.
But while the likes of Marcos Alonso and Andreas Christensen have flourished under Tuchel so far, the early weeks of his reign have been tough for others, such as Tammy Abraham, Ben Chilwell and Christian Pulisic.
Here, Sportsmail discusses some of the biggest winners and losers after six unbeaten weeks under Chelsea’s new manager.
One of the main characteristics of Chelsea under Tuchel is their defensive strength and he has racked up nine clean sheets in his 11 matches in charge so far.
One of the standout performers has been Christensen, who was in and out of the team under Frank Lampard but has been a regular under the new manager.
In fact, in games the Dane has started under Tuchel, Chelsea have kept a clean sheet in every single one of them.
He’s been so impressive that reports emerged over the weekend that Chelsea are set to open talks over a new contract to cement his status as a regular starter and ward off potential interest from elsewhere.
Andreas Christensen has been sublime at the heart of Chelsea’s defence since Tuchel arrived
The Spaniard has a knack for coming in from the cold and delivering impressive performances when there is doubt surrounding his future at the club.
Alonso’s performances are a case of a player really suiting the needs of the manager because the Spaniard knows exactly how to play the left wing-back role that Tuchel has introduced in his 3-4-2-1 system.
With some defensive cover behind him Alonso can raid forward, provide the width and break the lines with his driving runs from deep.
He scored in Tuchel’s first victory – against Burnley on January 31 – and has continued to play an important role with Ben Chilwell paying the price.
Marcos Alonso is a wing-back specialist and has proven his worth to his new manager already
The Italian arrived at Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2018 and was immediately cast as the centre piece for ‘Sarri-ball’ after his time working with Maurizio Sarri at Napoli.
Deployed as the deepest midfield in Sarri’s 4-3-3, Jorginho’s job was to pick the ball up from defenders and launch attacks from deep as he operated like the team’s brain.
That role was tweaked by Lampard but now, as Chelsea showed against Liverpool last week, the Blues are focusing on possession and look so composed against pressing teams while on the ball.
Jorginho perfectly embodies the type of player Tuchel wants in the heart of his midfield and the Italian, reportedly wanted by Juventus, is reaping the rewards of his manager’s system. Still on penalties, he scored the second goal against Everton.
Tuchel’s desire to see his teams dominate the ball has suited Jorginho in the heart of midfield
Injury and a lack of form meant Hudson-Odoi really struggled for regular game time under Lampard last season and he couldn’t nail down a place earlier on this season, either.
But Tuchel has used him in the right wing-back position on several occasions, as well as further forward at times.
There was the infamous substituting of the substitute at Southampton last month but Hudson-Odoi has responded well and started in the European victory over Atletico and against both Manchester United and Everton.
Going further forward, you’d think Hudson-Odoi will want to be playing in one of the attacking roles behind the striker but for now it seems he’s happy to just be playing football after a stop-start spell in his career.
Callum Hudson-Odoi has been used in various roles but looks to have the backing of Tuchel
The big winner in all of this is definitely Chelsea’s owner.
It was a huge call to sack Lampard because of his affiliation with the club and fans and after last summer’s huge summer spending free.
But as we have seen so many times before, Abramovich knew things weren’t working and acted decisively as he sought a way back into the top-four race.
Now not only do Chelsea look on course for a fourth-place finish, they look capable of finishing second to Manchester City, all because of the Russian’s decision to axe Lampard and replace him with the impressive Tuchel.
Roman Abramovich acted decisively to sack Frank Lampard and has been instantly rewarded
Ben Chilwell was a big-money signing in the summer but has seen his role diminish
After chopping and changing at left back last season, Lampard moved to address the issue in the summer and forked out £45million for Chilwell from Leicester.
He started the season with an injury but when fit cemented himself as the No 1, scoring twice and contributing four assists earlier on in the Premier League season.
But Tuchel’s shift to a back three with wing backs has led to Alonso being the No 1 choice with Chilwell only starting four of Tuchel’s nine league games. He was also benched for the Atletico first leg.
With Alonso so good in that role and his recent form, Chilwell has a fight on his hands to get the minutes he thought he was probably guaranteed when he arrived last summer.
Pulisic was one of the misfiring players you thought could really be invigorated by the arrival of Tuchel – he was the man who gave him his debut for Borussia Dortmund remember.
But the American has only started once since Tuchel arrived – in a 1-0 FA Cup victory over Championship side Barnsley – and has appeared off the bench six times in the top-flight.
Tuchel admitted he has been ‘a bit unfair’ on Pulisic after leaving him out of Chelsea’s starting line-up in every Premier League fixture so far. He has preferred Hakim Ziyech on the right while Timo Werner has moved between the left side and up front.
But the German also said ‘I can say nothing else but good things about him’ so opportunities look like they could be on their way for Pulisic, who was outstanding during Project Restart last summer.
Tuchel admitted on Monday night he has been ‘unfair’ on Christian Pulisic since taking over
Abraham was one of the many success stories during Lampard’s first season in charge when the club had to look at talent already at the club because of their FIFA-imposed transfer ban.
The 23-year-old started last season on fire, scoring 10 goals in his first 13 league games before his form trailed off towards the end of the campaign.
He was given plenty of minutes before Lampard was sacked but only scored six league goals before Tuchel took over and he has barely been given a sniff since.
Abraham has not even been in the squad for Chelsea’s last three games with Olivier Giroud and Werner preferred up top and even Kai Havertz playing in a ‘false nine’ role on Monday night. Surely he’ll be leaving this summer?
Tammy Abraham was key last season but has not been involved in the last three league games
It wasn’t long ago – just before Christmas in fact – that Zouma was the star man in Lampard’s Chelsea defence, forging a dominant partnership with Thiago Silva.
Injury problems and loan spells away from the club meant Zouma had not managed to become a regular until last season but under Lampard he finally looked like he could become the club’s first-choice.
But all that work has seemingly come undone in recent weeks under Tuchel with Zouma playing just twice under the German in the league so far.
What’s worse is Tuchel has switched to three centre backs but Christensen, Cesar Azpilicueta and Antonio Rudiger are the preferred trio. Zouma impressed against Everton on Monday night but is it enough to win back his place regularly?
Kurt Zouma has found him out of favour under Tuchel, despite his move to a five-man defence
If Chilwell has fallen down the pecking order at left wing-back then where does that leave Emerson?
The Italian has always been back up to someone or a rotation option, never quite doing enough to become first choice at Stamford Bridge.
But Tuchel did deploy him as the left-sided centre back in the FA Cup win at Barnsley so he does feel there is some versatility there.
The fact he can play two positions is why he’s on the bench so much but just 688 minutes all season shows he could be on the move when the season concludes.
Emerson has barely played this season and looks set to leave the club at the end of the season
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