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2021/22 Premier League Previews | Chelsea, Thomas Tuchel and a European champion's glorious return to prominence

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2021/20 Premier League preview: Chelsea

Sportscafe

2021/22 Premier League Previews | Chelsea, Thomas Tuchel and a European champion's glorious return to prominence

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Siddhant Lazar

08/13/2021

The 2021/22 Premier League season is around the corner and for Chelsea, this season could very well define Thomas Tuchel's time at Stamford Bridge. Because having won the Champions League trophy, the next step is to spend millions on another striker to win the title. And they're doing just that.

How well did Chelsea do in the 2020/21 Premier League season?

For a side that spent just north of 200 million last summer, Frank Lampard’s Chelsea weren’t the worst side in the world but they weren’t great either. Bang average or mediocre, depending on how kind you want to be to Lampard, was the extent of it all and that’s despite all the spending. They lost six out of their opening 19 Premier League games and were sitting in tenth place but well within the top four.

However, the team was most definitely on the decline and it saw the Blues make a pre-emptive strike, replacing the legend with Thomas Tuchel. That moved, despite the German’s critics, proved to be simply sensational as Chelsea flew out of the blocks with them losing just three league games following Tuchel’s takeover. Not only that, they flew into the top four, flew into the Champions League final and ended the season with only their second Champions League trophy.

Sensational doesn’t even come close to describing it with the German completely turning things around.

They finished the league season with 19 wins, drew 10 games and lost 9 with those nineteen games nearly hurting their status amongst the top four. Their numbers, however, showcased their offensive struggles as they finished as the league’s eighth highest goals scorer (58). Not only that, Chelsea had the third highest xG per 90 (1.68), the third best assists per 90 minutes (1.12), the second highest key passes completed (443), the third most touches overall (29564), and the third best non-penalty xG or npxG (56.4).

We all know just how badly the Blues performed defensively in the 2019/20 season but that may have been the one thing that slightly changed last term for them. It’s an inconsistent balance but there are crests and troughs in every area and this is no different but there are most definitely changes as compared to the previous season (2020/21 – 2019/20). For one, they had the second best, overall and amongst the top ten, defensive record (36-54) and that alone is a major change.

The Blues combined that with second best PSxG (Post-Shot Expected Goals) (32.9-41.0), the third most errors leading to a goal/shot (21-9) and had the sixth best successful pressure percentage (31.0%-30.9%). Furthermore, they committed the sixth most fouls (438-386), had the second best clean sheet percentage (47.4%-23.7%) and did that while averaging the fourth best points per game (1.76-1.74).

However, since this is Chelsea, we have decided to shine the spot-light on the way their goalkeeper(s) performed this season. This was an area of concern for the Blues last term but the arrival of Edouard Mendy changed things with the 28-year-old thriving and the stat showed just that when compared with their 2019/20 figures. They now only had the eighth worst save percentage (shots on target against vs goals against) at .680 which is a dramatic improvement as compared to last season’s .548.

Only Leicester City, Southampton, Newcastle United and Brighton were worse. They also averaged 0.92 goals per 90 (1.42), had a -2.1 PSxG +/-  for the 2020/21 season, a higher number suggests better luck or an above-average ability to save shots. Their 2019/20 figure? -10.0 and once again, another drastic improvement. They still finished six from bottom with Leeds United leading the pack (+7.6) and Manchester City sat in ninth from bottom with a +1.3 rating.

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Improvements they’ve made so far:

Nothing. Nada. Zlich. Although Romelu Lukaku, arguably the best striker in the world, has signed for an insane 115 million fee and has made his way back to Chelsea. They were after Erling Haaland but his 150 million plus fee would have stopped them from getting more players in. Because, reportedly, that is the Chelsea plan, to once again splurge but this time on better players. Jules Kounde is at the top of their shortlist for a defender with Lukaku said to be the other major target.

But beyond that, the Blues don’t really need to make too many improvements or additions to their squad because they did most of it last summer. Enough to win them a Champions League trophy but enough to create a world-dominating squad? We’ll see.

How well could Chelsea do in the 2021/22 Premier League season?

Signing Romelu Lukaku and playing him alongside a forward that tends to thrive in a two-man system in Timo Werner might be the masterstroke that defines Thomas Tuchel, even if its one that fans and critics have been screaming at him to try. But should the two dovetail properly, should Chelsea's defensive behemoth continue to showcase their impressive nature at the back and should Tuchel not have an implosion with the board, then a title race is not out of the question.

Hell, they might even outpip Manchester City to the trophy because as problems go last season, Chelsea and Tuchel only had one; they struggled to score goals. But if Romelu Lukaku can't find his shooting boots, if Timo Werner struggles once again and if the defensive behemoth falls apart because it's being lead by a 36-year-old Thiago Silva, then questions may need to be asked because the floor is very low.

A top four berth is definitely on the cards but Chelsea's implosions often coincide with bad periods for the club and that often sees them fall far lower than anyone expects. So when the question is how low could Chelsea fall? The answer doesn't lie within mere prediction writers or betting sites but instead within fortune tellers and the fates.

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