Thomas Tuchel Chelsea problem in danger of getting worse and Antonio Conte record proves it – Daniel Childs

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An ugly reality contrasted sharply at the end of the 2021/22 season for Thomas Tuchel and Chelsea. Although the German had achieved the highest Premier League points tally since the last title win in 2016/17, he also presided over the club’s worst home record since the disastrous 2015/16 campaign when the Blues finished 10th.

Nine wins out of a possible 19 reflected the pretty dreadful end to the season, which saw a run of bad defeats and performances at an under-capacity Stamford Bridge feeling the effects of the sanctions and exhaustion over the takeover process. The final day win over an already-relegated Watford was only the third out of nine since January.

Chelsea dropped 23 points at home in total, ending with a total of 34 points from 19 games, only one more than they achieved in the 2020/21 season.

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Although this is an issue Tuchel has faced, the slide at Stamford Bridge has been going on since the last title win five years ago under Antonio Conte and one that appears a huge obstacle to any future title aspirations the Blues have under Todd Boehly.

In 2021/22, it was the home form that almost cost Chelsea a Champions League spot, or at the very least got them tantalisingly close to a final day fight they should have never been in.

Tracking back to the 2016/17 season shows the difference in performance across multiple stats. In that brilliant season under Conte when the Blues went from 10th the previous May back to first the next, the Italian oversaw 17 wins at home, there were no draws – the only dropped points coming in two defeats to Liverpool and Crystal Palace.

51 points were gained that year, more than Jose Mourinho racked up in the historic 2004/05 title-winning haul at the Bridge. The closest any Chelsea coach has got to Conte’s tally in the five seasons since is Maurizio Sarri, gaining 42 in the 2018/19 season, which may be an unpopular fact with some fans.

Other than that, the worrying trend has been a slide downwards – 37 in Conte’s second season, 36 in Frank Lampard’s first and 33 and 34 in the last two. Breaking it down further shows that in goals per 90, 16/17 is unsurprisingly top with 2.89 with 18/19 second with 2.05, 21/22 third with 1.95, 20/21 fourth with 1.63, with 17/18 and 19/20 tied at fifth with 1.58.

Shots and shots on target place the previous season bottom, with the last title winning campaign again top. In the amount of possession, it should not stun supporters to know that Sarri’s season ranks highest, with the last two campaigns just trailing behind and Conte’s title win actually at the bottom. Figures which highlight the change in style across five years.

Quality of chances via xG (Expected Goals) tells a compelling story, with Frank Lampard’s first season highest with an xG of 2.17, with the previous two seasons in second and third.

Chelsea’s home slide (data via WyScout)

2016/17: Goals: 2.89 xG: 1.83 Shots / on target: 16.05 / 41% Possession: 55.71

2017/18: Goals: 1.58 xG: 1.81 Shots / on target: 17.63 / 37.9% Possession: 56.3

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2018/19: Goals: 2:05 xG: 1.87 Shots / on target: 16.11 / 38.2% Possession: 62.94

2019/20: Goals: 1.58 xG: 2.17 Shots / on target: 16.21 / 36.7% Possession: 59.07

2020/21: Goals: 1.63 xG: 2.06 Shots / on target: 13.84 / 40.3% Possession: 59.23

2021/22: Goals: 1.95 xG: 2 Shots / on target: 16.26 / 36.6% Possession: 61.77

There are many factors to consider over why much has gone wrong. The quality of players within the squad has lessened. In Conte’s first season he inherited a team that had won the title quite recently under Mourinho and had individuals who could swiftly change games, in Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas.

The glaring stat of 16/17 being fifth for xG shows the difference in individual quality Chelsea once had that could consistently make more out of fewer chances.

Since then, that trio have left the club and adequate replacements have not been found, or the club has promoted younger talent that is still years from their prime. The shift from five years ago to playing a more possession-based game under Sarri, Lampard and Tuchel has certainly been an awkward transition, especially against deep-lying defences who have consistently nullified Chelsea.

Last season was probably the biggest demonstration of this long-standing issue, as points were dropped to Burnley, Manchester United and Everton, three teams who placed bodies behind the ball and forced Chelsea to break them down, something that exposed a lack of creativity under Tuchel.

When looking at ways to fix it, Chelsea need to be more dynamic and direct, two things that have defined all the best Chelsea teams at home. Too often over the past five years, you could be forgiven for mistaking a 17/18 game in 21/22 for its similarity in frustration and lack of invention.

The pursuit in the market of attacking mavericks like Ousmane Dembele could hopefully inject a bit more unpredictability when nine times out of 10, an inferior opponent will look to sit deep and limit space.

Finishers like Raheem Sterling who have proven to be productive in the Premier League might help and hoping both Ben Chiwell and Reece James remain fit for the majority of next season should add further creativity and energy to an attack that greatly lacked it when both were out injured . Mason Mount, meanwhile, continues to be an integral part of the way Chelsea build attacks under Tuchel.

The home form has reached a low point, one that Tuchel needs to improve next season to maintain Chelsea’s current place within the top four, with the dreams of that 50-point home return looking like a wild fantasy rather than a quickly attainable goal in the near future.

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