Tuchel’s Chelsea impact could turn this into a Blues season to remember

The transformation under Thomas Tuchel in less than two months has been nothing short of remarkable.

Tuchel took over from Frank Lampard with Chelsea in ninth place, the top four was beginning to look a tall order with far too many players under-performing.

Fast forward to the first week of March and Chelsea are up to fourth, they are unbeaten in 11 games under Tuchel and the improvement in some of those players has been incredible.

Marcos Alonso was frozen out under Lampard but was instrumental again in their win over Everton while Kai Havertz finally seems to have found his role in the team and Callum Hudson-Odoi was excellent again.

Suddenly, Chelsea are in the box seat for a Champions League place after seeing off one of their main rivals in Everton, they are still in the FA Cup and have got a European second leg against Atletico Madrid next week.

Tuchel has worked wonders with the Chelsea players

Sometimes a fresh voice or a change is as good as a rest but Tuchel is, however, busily justifying one of this season’s most unpopular decisions when Chelsea sacked Lampard.

The way Alonso – who was bombed by Lampard in September and did not get another kick until Tuchel came in – has come back has perhaps been the most impressive.

It is easy to forget that Alonso was such an integral part of Antonio Conte’s title winning team and, as long as he plays as a wing back, then he offers so much going forward.

This was arguably the best game Havertz – playing as a false nine – has had in a Chelsea shirt and it was his shot which was deflected off Ben Godfrey for the own goal to open the scoring and he won the second half penalty converted by Jorginho to seal victory.

Chelsea are in the groove and, even with five changes to the starting line-up to rest weary legs, they had too much for an Everton team who have flirted with the top four but may ultimately come up short.

Godfrey put through his own net in the first half
Godfrey put through his own net in the first half

Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti always gets the warmest of welcomes back at Stamford Bridge for the job and Double he delivered while in charge at Chelsea.

The improvements Ancelotti has made this season have been hugely impressive but they are still a work in progress and yet a European place still looks within their grasp.

It did look as if this would always be a game in which one of the two teams would step forward, seize the moment and take the initiative in the battle for top four.

Chelsea just looked more likely from the start and they went ahead after 31 minutes with a well worked goal involving Hudson-Odoi, Alonso and Havertz.

Hudson-Odoi found Alonso who put over a low cross, Havertz connected but the ball ended up deflecting in off Ben Godfrey for an own goal to put Chelsea ahead.

Jorginho found the net with the second from the spot
Jorginho found the net with the second from the spot

Incredibly, Everton have scored 53 own goals in the Premier League, seven more than any other side in the competition’s history and yet it was also the first goal they have conceded in 341 minutes.

Chelsea went close to making it two as Alonso was denied by Everton keeper Jordan Pickford while the visitors’ best chance was missed by Richarlison who skewed horribly wide in the second half.

But Chelsea made it safe after 65 minutes. Havertz, the £62m summer signing, scampered through, knocked it past Pickford and was then sent tumbling by the Everton keeper.

It was a clear penalty and Jorginho slotted home.

Pickford made terrific saves to deny Timo Werner and N’Golo Kante in the closing stages as Chelsea really stamped their authority on the game and a place in the top four.

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