Five Chelsea Players Still to Prove Their Worth to Thomas Tuchel Ahead of 2021/22 Season
Chelsea’s campaign begins on August 11 in Belfast against Villarreal in the Super Cup, three days before the Premier League opener at home to Crystal Palace.
Many Blues fans will be full of excitement and high expectations this season in what will be Thomas Tuchel’s first full campaign at the club.
The German took over from Frank Lampard in late January and successfully guided the club to the Champions League title, beating Manchester City 1-0 in the final at the end of May.
But despite winning Europe’s elite competition, Tuchel still has some players who will need to prove their worth to him as he looks to mount a charge for the Premier League title this term.
Here are five players who will need to step up in the coming campaign.
- Timo Werner
Timo Werner had an underwhelming first season in England since arriving from RB Leipzig last summer, managing just six goals in the Premier League all season while making the headlines with some shocking misses in front of goal.
Werner did provide eight assists and won several penalties for the west Londoners, but the German was brought in to score 20-odd goals and ultimately failed to show the goal scoring ability that he showcased in the Bundesliga.
The 25-year-old forward will feel he’s been more unlucky than poor having hit the woodwork five times and seeing two goals ruled out by VAR, but he’ll get little sympathy from Chelsea fans if his slump continues this season.
With the Blues looking increasingly likely to miss out on Erling Haaland, Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane at this stage, Werner will be under pressure to rediscover his confidence and goal-scoring touch.
We did see glimpses of the talent he possesses last season and if he can get off to a good start, he will prove the doubters wrong and show why he was heralded as one of the hottest strikers in Europe when Chelsea splashed the cash on him.
After adjusting to life in England, a fully confident Werner could be prolific in the coming campaign.Christian Pulisic
2. Christian Pulisic
Christian Pulisic made an encouraging start to his Chelsea career. But the American winger struggled for form last season and despite reuniting with the man who kick-started his senior career at Dortmund, surprisingly found himself used as a bench player.
The 22-year-old had to settle for a place on the substitutes’ bench for the recent Champions League final win over Manchester City and, after being introduced, missed a glorious chance to double the Blues’ lead.
It’s fair to say that injuries and fitness problems hampered his progress in 2020/21, but Pulisic needs to step up his play in the final third and add consistency to his game.
Four goals and two assists from 27 appearances simply isn’t good enough for someone of Pulisic’s quality and Tuchel will want more from the American this season.
Pulisic has the potential to be one of the game’s best, so hopefully he can find his fitness on a consistent basis and perform the way he did at the back end of the 2019/20 campaign.Hakim Ziyech
3. Hakim Ziyech
Hakim Ziyech showed glimpses of his talent during his debut season as a Chelsea player, but struggled to find consistent form, under both Tuchel and former boss Frank Lampard.
He made 39 appearances across all competitions, registering just six goals and four assists. The 28-year-old will need to step up this season if he is to establish himself as a key component in the European champions’ squad.
Ziyech has shown he is capable of being a big-game player, but he needs to put in top level performances on a more consistent basis.
The Moroccan wizard will hope to return stronger having acclimatised to the demands of the Premier League and finally deliver the magic everyone expected when his move from Ajax was announced.
With a full pre-season under his belt, he has a chance to return to the form that resulted in him being considered one of the best playmakers in Europe, winning Ajax’s Player of the Year award three times in a row.Callum Hudson-Odoi
4. Callum Hudson-Odoi
Callum Hudson-Odoi will be hoping this is his big year at Chelsea, having been on the fringes of the first team for the past two campaigns. He started just 10 Premier League matches last season, returning five goals and three assists.
The youngster was favoured by Tuchel at the beginning of his tenure, playing a run of games at right wing-back, but fell out of favour during the run-in and was an unused substitute during the Champions League final.
Remarkably still just 20 years old, Hudson-Odoi certainly has a high ceiling and has been tipped to have a massive future at the club, but the Englishman hasn’t quite lived up to expectations.
Facing competition from Werner, Pulisic, Ziyech and Kai Havertz, Hudson-Odoi needs to step up in a big way this season, whether it’s him doing his job of producing for Chelsea on a regular basis or providing an impact as a substitute.
The Englishman has had an impressive pre-season so far and if he can stay fit and fix the inconsistencies in his game, he can have a huge impact this season.Tammy Abraham
5. Tammy Abraham
Tammy Abraham could be on his way out of the club, with Arsenal and West Ham United linked. But that hinges on whether the Blues can bring in a new striker.
If they fail to do so and Abraham stays, he will need to convince Tuchel that he has what it takes to lead the line for the European champions. With Olivier Giroud gone, he should get more minutes under the German this season.
The 23-year-old enjoyed an impressive breakthrough campaign under Lampard in 2019/20 as he bagged 18 goals across all competitions from his 47 appearances.
Despite proving himself to be a consistent goalscorer, Abraham struggled to get minutes under Tuchel and was regularly left out of matchday squads, most notably in the FA Cup and Champions League finals.
But despite the lack of game time, he still finished the campaign as the club’s joint-top scorer in all competitions alongside Werner.
Whilst Tuchel might not favour him, Abraham remains a Chelsea player. And if it stays that way come the end of the transfer window, the English striker will be hoping for a second chance to prove himself to the German manager.