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.
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.
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.
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.