LONDON -- Thomas Tuchel may not be the most expensive Chelsea signing, but he proved in Sunday's 3-0 Premier League victory at Tottenham that he is quickly becoming one of the club’s top players.
To make a tight game comfortable, Tuchel needed to have the same level of managerial skills that Tuchel had to take Champions League winners to Premier League title contenders.
It helps to have a player of the calibre N'Golo Kane at your disposal as a substitute in the half-time game with the goalless. However, Tuchel saw an opportunity and took off Mason Mount, adjusting his 3--4-2-1 system, an intervention from which Spurs never recovered.
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Few Chelsea managers are as open to the game's brutal culture as Tuchel. He is now acutely aware of how clubs are built to be successful after a brutal sacking at Paris Saint-Germain. The 48-year old has the passion of someone who doesn't want to wait to win and instead revels in the now.
He came against Tottenham and he saw. Tuchel was visibly frustrated by poor decision-making in third, and spent most of the first period on his feet in visitors' technical area. Spurt's persistent early press made some of the scrambled thinking possible. It harassed Chelsea’s back three and central midfield pair, encouraging a loud home crowd.
Tuchel was particularly angry at Mount, especially midway through the first period. He checked back to keep possession and not risk his drive forward to counter-attack. This was the second instance in which Tuchel delayed his pass to Romelu Lukaku, and it resulted in another breakaway.
However, it was a surprise that Mount was substituted at the break, even though it was the second consecutive weekend in which Tuchel had made a halftime change after Saul Niguez’s terrible debut against Aston Villa. The message he sent was perhaps the most important.
Tuchel stated, "It appeared that we had changed the system, but we just played it more strongly, with more energy, quality, and sharper." It was too slow and not sharp enough during the first half. In the first half, we relied too heavily on our skillful play. This game was too easy for us to lose our energy and attitude.
Chelsea's recent fine win was a result of the tactics of Thomas Tuchel and Thiago Silva. Getty
The Chelsea manager said that N'Golo was the right player to have on the bench if he wants to play in these areas of the game. He is unique and can alter any momentum.
"So, the change seemed to be in terms of characteristics, a little more defensive, but we wanted to improve team compactness, ball wins and spirit. The effect was immediate. Kante was able to play slightly deeper than Mount in the midfield, which gave Chelsea more chances of escape from the Tottenham press. The away team was in control within four minutes of the start of the second period.
Marcus Alonso's brilliant volley had been tipped over the Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. But the left wingback's next corner found Thiago Silva, who was unmarked and able to score a header into the net. This was the highlight of another impressive display by the Brazilian defender, who turns 38 next week.
Chelsea failed to pursue Sevilla's Jules Kounde during the summer and opted not to pay the 80 million release clause. Kurt Zouma joined West Ham but Chelsea's frustration can be justified by their remaining defenders excelling like Silva here. Silva's superb positioning and commanding an extremely high defensive line defy a mismatch between Son Heung-Min Son's pace.
Kante is not a well-known goal scorer. His strike against Eric Dier was his 12th in over 200 appearances for Chelsea. However, the time he had to line up his shot was evidence of Tuchel's tweak with Mateo Kovacic that shifted the ball slightly to the left and scrambled his home team.
The game was over after eight minutes when two goals ended it as a contest. Nuno Espirito Sante, Spurs manager, had chosen a brave team and Spurs started with tremendous energy, despite the Thursday trip to Rennes. However, Kepa Arrizabalaga was not tested, and Nuno failed to react to the changes in the game.
His limited options and the risks he took to send out a Dier, a patched up Dier, and two of the three South American World Cup qualifying players Cristian Romero (and Giovani Lo Celso) can be seen as mitigation.
Nuno was only Nuno's eighth in-game game as manager, something he mentioned after the game, when citing "a shortage of time for us all to work together." However, such comparisons should not be made without caveats. Tuchel won six games, drew two, and kept five clean sheets during the same period while also implementing an obvious shift in ideology.
While Chelsea were adroit in replacing Frank Lampard, Tottenham made a series of blunders and changed their minds at least once before finally settling on Nuno to be the permanent successor to Jose Mourinho. Not least because Harry Kane wants to be somewhere else, but there is still room for improvement.
After a heartbreaking afternoon, the Blues and Chelsea were united in their grief at the loss of Jimmy Greaves. He was a prolific goal scorer for Tottenham and Chelsea and was sadly missed by the world. Nuno will now have to address a host of questions ahead of Saturday's match against Manchester City.
After another win against their old foes, the Chelsea supporters sang "Tottenham Hotspur it's happened again" They had Tuchel to thank for this victory.