Whenever Eden Hazard and Diego Costa’s name is mentioned, flashbacks of Chelsea’s 2014-15 and 2016-17 title winning seasons appear. And just maybe, Thomas Tuchel needs a partnership like Hazard and Costa to win the Premier League. The weekend’s league win against Crystal Palace further cements the argument as the Blues narrowly won 1-0. Hakim Ziyech scored the only goal, and moreover was the only player who created something.
Mason Mount, Hudson-Odoi and Reece James all missed the game, and so did frequent creativity. No other player than Ziyech created enough clear-cut chances. Romelu Lukaku created an embarrassing record, finishing the 90 minutes with only 7 touches. Havertz and Pulisic have proved to be more of finishers rather than creators. Despite abundance of attackers, Tuchel’s side as failed to score frequently. The problem here is the attackers have contrasted each other’s game, than complimenting. And this is the area where Tuchel needs an understanding like that of Hazard and Costa. It is quite simple, Hazard created chances and Costa absolutely buried them.
Willian to was a crucial player behind Hazard and Costa, who helped unleash the duo their attacking prowess. The trio formed a formidable chemistry and clinched two Premier League titles for the Blues. The attackers from the current Chelsea team have failed to establish such connection and hence their individual game has also dented. The Chelsea boss needs to take a leaf out of the club’s title winning campaigns under Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte.
Why Tuchel needs a Hazard-Costa partnership
Eden Hazard and Diego Costa were in their prime when Chelsea won the title in 2014-15 and 2016-17. Willian and Cesc Fabregas also a pivotal role to help blossom an electrifying attacking play between Hazard and Costa. Hazard is a proven world-class dribbler, and his Chelsea days just boast his one-on-one abilities. Not to mention that blistering goal against Arsenal in the 2016-17 season. Hazard received the ball in Chelsea’s half, and he left half-a-dozen Arsenal players on the floor before scoring an absolute beauty. He was a natural creator in that Chelsea side, who fed in the strikers with his passes that slit the opposition’s defense.
Diego Costa on the other hand was a striker who didn’t need a second chance to score. Give an inch’s space to Costa near the box, and he would punish you with a goal. His powerful physicality and the strength to hold on the ball was unbeatable as he won the aerial battle against Koscielny to head down the ball for Hazard to score that goal against Arsenal. Willian was the hidden gem here who would burst out at the most unexpected time. His box-to-box work-rate helped Hazard and Costa work their wonders up the pitch. Moreover, Willian too chipped in with some important goals and the creativity.
Lack of clear goalscorer and a creator in current Chelsea side
As far as the current Chelsea side, despite splashing out €113 million on Lukaku, he has failed to score regularly. Nor anybody from the midfield has stepped-up to create any chances. Nobody in the team of Thomas Tuchel has a defined role as that of Hazard and Costa. The duo delivered week-in week-out no matter who the manager was. Hazard and Costa won the premier league titles with outstanding stats despite playing under managers who like Tuchel preferred a more defensive approach. Costa scored 20 league goals in 2014-15 season, with Hazard adding up 14 goals and 10 assists. 2016-17 was another great season for both as Costa along with another 20 goals, chipped in 8 assists in the league. Hazard had an upgrade on the goals too, scoring 16 and creating 5.
Last week in the Club World Cup, Lukaku and Havertz linked up brilliantly to help Chelsea lift the title. Same was expected against Crystal Palace but both Havertz and Lukaku look lost. These temporary link-ups are not going to help Chelsea win a Premier League title. Tuchel first needs to sort out his attacking trio. Given the number of attacker he has, it is natural of Tuchel to rotate. But he can not keep a confusion about who his go-to men are. For an immediate instance, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp picked Salah, Firmino and Mane as his trio, and developed a splendid chemistry among them. As a result, the trio raised the bar for each other’s game and helped Liverpool win their first league title in 30 years.
Tuchel can not waste much time over making these decisions since we know Roman Abramovich’s impatient attitude. The Chelsea owner has a history of bluntly sacking managers if they fail to deliver, then be it Mourinho, Conte or club legend Frank Lampard. Summer will be another opportunity where Tuchel could sit down to address the attacking problems, and maybe find pick out the players with whom he would establish that Hazard-Costa partnership.