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Diego Costa and Eden Hazard uncover Tuchel’s clearest Chelsea blind spot after Ziyech winner

The inspiration for this piece came from football.london’s own Adam Newson, who pointed out the lack of natural creators in Thomas Tuchel’s lineup against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Breaking this down further only vindicates this concern.

Other than Hakim Ziyech, who scored the winning goal and delivered some exquisite crosses that no one capitalised on, the obvious creators were hard to find with no Mason Mount, Reece James or Callum Hudson-Odoi present.

Romelu Lukaku is a centre forward, Kai Havertz has proved more of a finisher, so has Christian Pulisic.

Jorginho nor N’Golo Kante have been progressing the ball well enough to be labelled ‘chance creators’. Even if Malang Sarr picked out a good pass for Kante in the first half, those moments are outliers.

From there you are relying on Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger to provide cutting diagonals from a deeper position.

A lot of the debate surrounding Tuchel’s current attacking issues focuses on the individual performances of players and their consistent output.

However, that fails to appreciate the core relationship and chemistry attacks need to possess in order to be consistently prolific.

The issue Chelsea have currently is that the varying profiles of their attackers seem to counteract rather than elevate each other in the current system.

That does not eradicate or excuse their own performances but it might go some way to explaining why the final third has proved such a frustrating area of Tuchel to fix.

You track back to the last time Chelsea won a Premier League title and the attacking trio was far more settled complimented each other’s attributes.

Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Willian played a majority of the 2014/15 title-winning season under Jose Mourinho and then were regulars under Antonio Conte two years later.

Both Hazard and Costa were outstanding talents at the peak of their powers.

Hazard was an exceptional one on one dribbler, capable of bamboozling opponents and skipping past several trailing legs. He was a natural creator for his peers and regularly opened up space for others to exploit.

Costa was the atypical frontman. He was imposing, physically dominant but technically proficient to hold up the ball and link smoothly with his peers. He would bury the chances Hazard created.

Willian was underrated but reliable for Chelsea. Someone whose tireless work rate helped Costa and Hazard push further up the pitch. The Brazillian also had moments of flair within him too, offering important goals and bursts of creativity.

Hazard was a scorer and creator. Costa was the finisher and focal point. Willian was the more traditional wide player.

Now when you look at the current Chelsea attack you are scratching your head for such defined roles.

Brief connections found in the team might provide optimism one week but quickly dissipate the next.

Chelsea also greatly lack enough incisiveness from deeper areas. Particularly central midfield, where a player with the forward range of passing like Cesc Fabregas has yet to be replaced.

As much as it may seem boring to continually reference bitter rivals, this clarity is exactly what Liverpool possess under Jurgen Klopp.

The famous trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have all taken each other’s games to new levels. Forming one of the most consistently prolific attacks since 2017.

It is probably the case Tuchel has too many attackers to choose from which makes this summer one where some tough decisions are going to be made.

The lack of clarity cannot continue if Chelsea hope to win a league title. For as much as Tuchel likes to rotate, the complete confusion over who his best attack is has become a mind-numbingly tedious conversation.

Taking inspiration from the past demonstrates how far Chelsea are from their best league attacks.

 

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