How Should we Assess Chelsea’s Season?

By  //  May 9, 2022

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When Chelsea captured the signature of Romelu Lukaku from Inter Milan last summer, many felt that the final piece of Thomas Tuchel’s jigsaw had been acquired. Chelsea were a team full of creative flair, but without the central spearhead to finish things off. The arrival of Lukaku was seen as the upgrade that would allow them to challenge for the Premier League title.

Despite a strong start to the campaign, with the Blues leading the Premier League table for a while, their challenge has gradually tapered off, and now the team are merely treading water until the end of the season as they seek to cement a top-four finish and post some positive results to see things out. 

But how should we reflect on Chelsea’s performance this season in an overall sense? On one hand, it has been a disappointing campaign. Their Premier League title challenge fell away dramatically over the winter period despite Tuchel’s side status as contenders in the Premiership odds. A League Cup final defeat to Liverpool on penalties was another bitter pill to swallow. Add in the endless complications over the club’s ownership situation and government sanctions, and you can understand the challenges the club has faced.

Despite all that though, there is still an opportunity for this campaign to have a positive ending. Much of this will be defined by the FA Cup final, where Chelsea will again face Liverpool at Wembley with silverware on the line. If they can go one better than last year and get their hands on the trophy, there will be cause for celebrations despite the inconsistent nature of the campaign.

Chelsea will be hoping that Liverpool are distracted enough by the Premier League title race and Champions League final that their standards slip slightly in the FA Cup showpiece. On current form, you feel there will only be one winner on May 14th, but if Chelsea can catch Liverpool off guard, then they’ll have a chance of upsetting the odds.

Even if Chelsea did capture the FA Cup, it would still be hard to say that this campaign has represented progression from last season. After winning the Champions League in Porto this time last year, Tuchel and co. would have hoped to kick on and maintain a strong challenge for the biggest honours in football, but finishing a distant third in the Premier League and bowing out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage hardly suggests that the team has improved.

There is a hugely important summer ahead. The likely departures of defenders Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rüdiger on free transfers mean that Tuchel will have some major headaches next season. It’s still unclear how the government sanctions and uncertain ownership situation are going to affect their ability to compete in the transfer market, but Chelsea could end up with a rather threadbare squad for the 2022-23 season. 

In a way, the uncertainty of what lies ahead makes the final throes of the current campaign even more important. Should their inconsistent league form continue, and should they lose to Liverpool in a domestic final yet again, it will be a miserable end to the season, with the promise of more misery in the months ahead.