The Blues are looking stronger than ever and many fans will be hoping they can take City's league title crown
Few could have foreseen the dramatic impact Thomas Tuchel would have on Chelsea upon his arrival. The German took over a dressing room full of talent but low on confidence and crucially one which he didn't assemble. Without the luxury of a rebuilding window, he quickly transformed the team into an impenetrable defensive unit and took them on a run of 14 games unbeaten. Come the end of the season, Tuchel had achieved a top four finish and most crucially brought the club its second Champions League title, almost a decade after the first.
After adding the incomparable Romelu Lukaku to the mix in the summer, as well as a deadline day swoop for Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez on deadline day, the club look set to provide serious competition for Premier League Champions Manchester City and go far again in Europe. They've started the season strongly and given fans a glimpse of some of the football they could be getting accustomed to in the coming months.
We caught up with Michael Zambonini from Breathe Chelsea and Brandon B. Busbee from the London Is Blue Podcast to find out just how excited fans are about the gaffer, the squad and what they expect the team to achieve come the end of the 2021/22 season. Here's what they had to say:
Q. How did you react when Thomas Tuchel was announced last season and did you imagine he'd have this big an impact?
Michael: It was tough as obviously our love for Frank wanted him to do well but I was really pleased at his appointment. I think he was given a rough ride towards the end with PSG and think the way he came in and conducted himself was classy which helped win us over and get behind him.
Q. It all worked out brilliantly, but with hindsight, do you think Frank Lampard was given the appropriate amount of time?
Brandon: It's going to be hard to find a fan that was ready to move Lampard out, but I think in hindsight the club probably made the right decision. From what was reported on, it sounds like the group wasn't happy and the results showed that unfortunately. The club had spent a lot of money in the summer and had high expectations.
Q. Who was the most important player in the squad last season from your perspective?
Michael: It’s tough because in that Champions League run we had so many players who were really storing in certain games but the one who stands out is Kante. In the final he read the game so well and deserved being named the best midfielder in the competition.
Q. With the arrival of Romelu Lukaku, where do you see Timo Werner this season? Will he play out wide or sit on the bench as back up?
Brandon: Timo, and a handful of other players, will all be fighting for minutes this season with the arrival of Lukaku. I think Werner will be best suited playing just off of Lukaku if he can find a start, otherwise his pace late in matches could be a big threat off the bench. Timo has quality and if he scores goals I'm sure Tuchel will find a way to play him!
Q. How pleased are you by the arrival of Saul Niguez and what do you think he could bring to the side this season?
Michael: Really pleased - I think with Gilmour going out on loan we were a bit light in numbers in that area of the pitch. With him coming into the side we can rest players without worrying about a dip in quality.
Q. It's pretty hard to top winning the Champions League in your first half season as manager, but what would represent success for Chelsea fans this season? What do you expect from this squad and this coach?
Brandon: Domestic success would be a great second act for Tuchel. Winning the Premier League is always considered a massive success. From there, domestic cups are cherries on top so we can't use those as a barometer of success. Champions League, Premier League or bust!
As the international break draws to a close, Chelsea fans won't have to wait long to see their team back in action. After comfortably dispatching Crystal Palace on the opening day of the season, beating local rivals Arsenal 2-0 and gallantly battling for a 1-1 draw against Liverpool, despite playing half the game with 10 men, Aston Villa are up next for Tuchel's side this Saturday, 11 September at 17.30. Will Lukaku add another goal to his impressive scoring tally? Will fans see the debut of Saul? We will have to wait and see but it's sure to be a fascinating encounter.
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