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Comment: Chelsea to Reap Long-Term Rewards of Thomas Tuchel’s Tactical Flexibility

Chelsea's 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur magnified the brilliance of Thomas Tuchel, who once again showed his tactical flexibility and management skills to end the Blues' poor run of Premier League form.

Before the match, Chelsea had not won in four Premier League matches and since the Boxing Day victory over Aston Villa.

However, Tuchel decided once again to switch his system and his side reaped the rewards with a truly magnificent display against Antonio Conte's Spurs.

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Since the German's arrival at Stamford Bridge, he has been fairly stubborn in terms of his side's shape, opting for a 3-4-3 in most game and on the slight ocassion a 3-5-2 formation.

And, to be fair to Tuchel, it has been working up until the mid-way point of this season. 

Whilst the formation and system is not totally to blame for Chelsea's poor run of form in the Premier League in December and for the start of January, it is clear that the switch of shape is getting the best out of the Blues' attackers.

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Chelsea opted for a back three against league leaders Manchester City earlier in the month and looked flat-footed as their attack was blunted.

Hakim Ziyech's performance was well below par as Romelu Lukaku struggled for service at the Etihad.

The Blues then faced Brighton and Hove Albion, with Ziyech producing a fine solo goal in a woeful attacking performance from the entire team once again, a match that ended with Chelsea lucky to escape with a point.

The difference between the two matches was the formations, with Tuchel opting for a 4-2-2-2 against Brighton and it clearly not working.

Tuchel learnt from this and with Andreas Christensen and Trevoh Chalobah not fit to start against Spurs, whilst Reece James and Ben Chilwell are out with long term injuries, he had to adapt once again.

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The performance at Brighton showed the German that it is not as easy as switching to a back four and taking away a defender for Chelsea to create more chances - they had to do more in possession.

This is where Tuchel showed his tactical flexibility once again, with just days to prepare for the important London derby.

Lukaku led the line, but this time Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ziyech (all who started against Brighton) were trusted in behind him.

Hudson-Odoi was put in his favoured left-wing role, with Ziyech in his favourite right midfield position. Chelsea created several chances as the front four all linked up superbly to brush aside Spurs.

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The tactical flexibility on show has proven that Chelsea can perform without their injured players, just needing to be trusted with a system that will suit those at his disposal.

Now it looks like Tuchel is prepared to switch up for games that matter, playing his players where they are comfortable rather than shoehorning them into roles where they are not able to perform to the best of their ability.

For example, rather than throwing Hudson-Odoi in at wing-back once again, Tuchel switched out the formation to put the youngster in his best position.

He was a direct force, driving at Tottenham's defence as he was one of the main threats for the Blues. 

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Chelsea faced Spurs three times in January, opting for a 4-2-2-2 in the first two matches of the Carabao Cup semi-final.

The second leg of the semi-final saw Tottenham figure out the system as, despite the Blues winning 1-0 away, Conte had exposed the weaknesses in the Blues' system.

This led to the change in system for Sunday's clash, one that proved to be vital as Chelsea pushed forward in the 2-0 win.

This shows real promise for Chelsea in the future as all great teams show tactial flexibility.

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"It's one way forward," Tuchel hinted at regarding his formation. "We tried a 4-1-4-1 formation today because we tried a 4-4-2 against them in the first match and that gave us an advantage but then they reacted to it in the second match.

"We thought maybe it could be an approach to give the players a solution after the last matches and we had the players for the formation, players in shape, players who wanted and should be on the pitch, and good positions for them.

"It gives us more options than only playing a 3-4-3 and we don't decide now, but it was well done."

Pep Guardiola's Manchester City have been referred to as the benchmark by Blues boss Tuchel as he admitted he looked up to his Spanish counter-part.

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And now, he is learning what it takes for a top team in England to compete on all levels. The tactical flexibility will allow the Blues to set up against teams who may have thought they figured out the depth of Tuchel's system.

This is something that has previously cost Chelsea manager's their jobs with Conte's three at the back system being exposed during his last season at the club, ultimately costing him his job.

If Tuchel can keep the rest of the league, and Europe, guessing with his tactics, there is no reason for Chelsea not to have a long and healthy relationship with their head coach.


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