Four things Tuchel got right and one he got wrong as Chelsea ease past Tottenham
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Chelsea got one over on their former boss Antonio Conte as they cruised to a 2-0 victory over Tottenham to move a step closer to the Carabao Cup final.
The Blues took the lead after just five minutes when Kai Havertz's early strike went in with some help from Davinson Sanchez. A comical own goal from an oblivious Ben Davies doubled Chelsea's advantage late in the first half.
Spurs failed to muster up any real response in the second half, with Chelsea's new-look back four untroubled by their shot-shy visitors.
Thomas Tuchel's side will now head into next week's return leg in north London with a two-goal cushion.
Daily Star Sport takes a look at the big calls Tuchel got spot-on as the Blues put themselves into pole position to make next month's big final at Wembley…
Four things he got right…
Chelsea's Premier League title bid has been hampered by a host of injuries in recent weeks, especially in the wing-back positions.
No sooner had Ben Chilwell been ruled out with a season-ending ACL injury, Reece James' stunning start to the season was brought to a temporary halt with a hamstring injury.
With that duo absent, Tuchel made the call to revert to a flat back four against Spurs; lining up in a 4-3-3 system.
His hands may have been tied, but the decision proved to be an inspired one as the Blues dominated their London foes.
On this evidence, Chelsea should have no problems in adapting their shape until their flying wing-backs are fit enough to return to the action.
Havertz finally fires
What did you make of Chelsea's performance against Spurs? Let us know in the comments section.
Havertz has been filling in as a central striker for Chelsea over the past few weeks in the absence of Lukaku and Timo Werner.
Unfortunately for the German, he struggled to make much of an impression during that stint in a central role.
But he finally rediscovered his scoring touch when he fired the Blues into an early lead – his first strike since November's 1-1 draw with Burnley.
Havertz hasn't exactly set the world alight since his £72million switch to Stamford Bridge back in 2020, but he was a constant threat on the left-hand side of the Blues front three on Wednesday night before he was withdrawn at the break after breaking his finger.
He showed more than enough promise in his 45-minute cameo to justify Tuchel's decision to stick with him for the big cup clash.
Tuchel's decision to rest Thiago Silva gave French youngster Malang Sarr the chance to impress alongside Antonio Rudiger.
And Sarr certainly made the most of his opportunity against Spurs.
No player won more tackles than Sarr (4) as the 22-year-old shackled Harry Kane with ease in a dominant first half showing.
Sarr pestered the England captain all night and played a key role in ensuring the Blues kept a clean sheet at Stamford Bridge.
Sarr's impressive performance will be a boost for Tuchel, who still isn't sure if Rudiger will remain in west London beyond the end of this season.
Shuffling the pack
Chelsea are still challenging on all fronts at the start of 2022 despite seeing their squad ravaged by injuries and Covid in recent weeks.
As well as having key personnel sidelined, the Blues have also lost Edouard Mendy, who has jetted off to the Africa Cup of Nations.
With such a packed schedule coming up; including next week's return leg against Spurs at The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Tuchel made six changes to his starting XI before the match kicked off and managed get past Spurs without the likes of N'Golo Kante and Thiago Silva, who were both missing from the Blues squad.
A host of fringe players such as Havertz, Sarr and even Saul Niguez managed to impress on a decent night's work for Tuchel's men.
And one thing he got wrong…
The big call from Tuchel was to restore Romelu Lukaku back to the Blues team after he was dropped in the wake of a controversial interview with Sky Italia.
The Belgian striker alluded to his unhappiness at Stamford Bridge and even threw shade at Tuchel for his tactical switches in the explosive encounter.
Tuchel responded by dropping Lukaku from the squad for last weekend's clash with title rivals Liverpool – but Lukaku returned to the Chelsea team after clear-the-air talks with the Blues boss.
Unfortunately, the striker failed to make amends on the pitch.
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The 28-year-old fluffed a host of golden chances, including a free header from 12-yards and a last-gasp volley.
Lukaku's body language also left a lot to be desired just 24 hours after his grovelling apology, with the ex-Inter Milan star throwing his arms in the air in despair on numerous occasions after not receiving the ball.
On this evidence, perhaps it was too soon to thrust Lukaku back under the spotlight.
- Chelsea FC
- Tottenham Hotspur FC
- Thomas Tuchel
- Antonio Conte
- League Cup
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