Thomas Tuchel should never play £30m man and 26-year-old alone together again for Chelsea - TCC View

When things go wrong for Chelsea, it isn’t just a few splashes.

A tidal wave of disappointment often crashes down upon the squad, leaving a soggy mess surrounding their feet.

Wednesday night was a prime example of this.

Going into the game against Arsenal, Thomas Tuchel must’ve been made well aware of the unwanted record awaiting him should his side lose at Stamford Bridge.

Prior to the capital city clash, Chelsea had not lost three consecutive home matches since 1993.

Both Brentford and Real Madrid returned to their respective grounds, having shocked and upset the European champions on foreign soil.

Anguish that only became even more intense after Mikel Arteta’s men secured a 4-2 victory, helped generously by several avoidable errors.

Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Outgunned by the Gunners

Andreas Christensen’s awful back-pass that unintentionally assisted Eddie Nketiah’s opener set the tone for the evening.

A mix-up between Malang Sarr and N’Golo Kante handed Nketiah his second and Arsenal’s third in the second-half.

Cesar Azpilicueta wrapped up his team’s misery by hauling Bukayo Saka to the ground in the penalty area.

Saka dispatched from the spot, sealing a great day out for the Gunners.

We told you: it doesn’t rain, it pours for Chelsea.

However, mistakes cannot take the sole blame for such a woeful performance.

It all went wrong for Chelsea

Tuchel must shoulder responsibility for picking the players he believed capable of overcoming Arsenal.

On paper, the starting XI certainly had more than enough quality to do so.

But watching the fixture made you realise this wasn’t the case.

Christensen’s mind appeared to be focused on sun lounges in Spain, rather than three Premier League points.

Sarr reminded everyone he is still very much a work in progress.

Photo by Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images

Playing Reece James at centre-back and Azpilicueta at wing-back was simply the wrong call.

Handing Romelu Lukaku a rare run-out also failed to be justified.

However, arguably Tuchel’s biggest misfire was to unite Kante and Ruben Loftus-Cheek together on their own in midfield.

Ruben and N’Golo not made for each other

The £30m (BBC) Frenchman had only started alongside Loftus-Cheek on six occasions in 2021/22 ahead of the Arsenal encounter.

In none of those half-dozen appearances did the pair play as a lone double pivot.

Often another body was installed to add extra cover in the centre of the park.

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Yet, due to Mateo Kovacic’s injury and Jorginho’s fatigue, Tuchel didn’t have much choice but to test Kante and Loftus-Cheek as a single partnership.

The trial failed miserably.

Arsenal were able to cut through the duo with relative ease, regularly pinching possession back from the Parisian and his 26-year-old co-worker.

It simply highlighted that Kante and Loftus-Cheek cannot be trusted on their own in such a crucial position.

The sooner Kovacic returns the better.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.