After suffering from a turbulent start to the campaign under Frank Lampard, Chelsea have managed to edge back into Champions League contention in recent weeks.
The Stamford Bridge outfit placed as low as ninth in the table in mid-January, but Thomas Tuchel has turned things around mostly by dramatically improving the team’s defence.
The German has a reputation for showcasing fluid and experimental football but rather than clicking into gear in the final third, Chelsea have instead evolved to become seriously controlling.
They have played eight Premier League and Champions League games under Tuchel so far, conceding only twice with one of those being an own-goal courtesy of Antonio Rudiger.
However, more impressive have been the numbers behind their performances which ultimately suggest that their results have been quite sustainable.
Of the eight games in question, only Newcastle United (10) and Manchester United (11) have managed to hit double figures in the shot department against the Blues.
The total of 11 efforts posted by the latter is the most so far but to achieve that figure, the Red Devils had to accept an average shot distance of 24.4 yards from goal, which is their furthest in any league match for the season.
For context, United have played 27 times this year and have only posted an average shot distance of 20 yards out or further on three occasions, with one of those being the 6-1 defeat to Tottenham after suffering from a red card in the 28th minute.
While restricting their opponents to few attempts on the volume side, Chelsea have also managed to contain the quality of those shots.
Expected Goals (xG) offers an insight into the likelihood of an effort on goal finding the net by considering various aspects such as shot location and the body part used to take that shot.
The metric can place a value on the shots that have been afforded by Chelsea, and it shines yet another positive light on Tuchel.
The Blues are averaging just over 0.4 xG faced per match under the new regime, which indicates the shots that Chelsea’s opponents are taking aren’t worth very much.
In fact, no team have managed to post over one Expected Goal in a single game against Tuchel’s men so far, with Newcastle’s 0.7 being the highest.
For perspective, Manchester City – who look set to win England’s top-flight by at least 15 points – have given up an Expected Goal of over one on nine occasions this season, or six excluding penalties.
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A larger sample size is required before sweeping statements are made regarding Chelsea’s new level, but their defensive numbers are extremely encouraging ahead of the final stretch of games and beyond under Tuchel’s leadership.
Liverpool are next up and although the Reds are far from their usual relentless selves, they are almost certain to pose the most dangerous attacking threat yet since the changing of the guard.
If Chelsea can once again oversee control by governing the offensive exploits of their opponents, maybe then people will start to take note.