The best thing about losing in football is that there is always another game. For Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel, Tuesday night’s fixture against Leicester City cannot come soon enough.
For the first time in his short reign, Tuchel may be feeling the heat after watching his side fall to a narrow 1-0 defeat to Leicester in the FA Cup final.
The good news for the German is that he will get a chance for vengeance almost immediately after an agonising day at Wembley.
Youri Tielemans' 30-yard scorcher in the second half was worthy of winning a Champions League final, let alone an FA Cup, although Tuchel will have some regrets about how his side missed several opportunities to score, with Kasper Schmeichel in inspired form.
The Blues boss insisted his side were “unlucky” to lose on Sunday, but the focus must now turn to the crunch Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge between the two teams, where their Champions League qualification hopes remain in the balance.
Chelsea will leapfrog Leicester into third with a win, while a draw would very much put Liverpool in the driving seat for the final two games of the season.
Having lost their last two games, Tuchel now must find a way to get his Chelsea side back to winning ways, or risk seeing their promising campaign come off the rails.
Mirror Sport looks at four things Tuchel could change from their FA Cup final defeat…
Switch Azpilicueta and James back
On the face of it, Tuchel’s decision to swap Cesar Azpilicueta and Reece James around at the back to combat the pace of Jamie Vardy worked a treat.
The 34-year-old has a sensational record of scoring against top-six sides but found his opportunities limited by James, who was deployed as the right-sided centre-back in their 3-4-3 formation.
Azpilicueta, meanwhile, was pushed further forward and while the Spaniard has been impressive of late as a creative force from the right, the Blues captain had little effect on the game and was hooked midway through the second half.
James is a more energetic operator down the flank and his pacy, whipped crosses are difficult to defend against. Having changed the system mid-game, Tuchel may consider reverting to his regular setup in order to benefit from his attacking prowess.
Play Wern er and Havertz together
The German pair have endured a difficult debut campaign in England since their big-money moves from the Bundesliga, but there are signs that Timo Werner and Kai Havertz are starting to form a solid strike partnership.
Werner cut a frustrated figure on Saturday as a lone striker, spurning the half-chances that came his way and was edged out of the game by Wesley Fofana in the second half.
Tuchel might just dip into his tactical playbook and rip out the page from the Champions League semi-final second leg against Real Madrid, where Havertz pulled Sergio Ramos out of position and won several aerial duels.
The 21-year-old has also scored three goals and registered an assist in his last four league appearances, and with Werner helping set up two of those, the pair could provide Tuchel with the goals he has been missing.
Give Mount the Messi role
It took him a short while to realise it, but Tuchel has said Mason Mount is “absolutely key” and warned Chelsea not to over-expect from the 22-year-old after playing in all 50 games for the club in all competitions in 2020/21.
But Mount seems to thrive with that expectation on his shoulders; he’s not burdened by it.
Nine goals and six assists does not accurately reflect the consistency and class he has shown in the blue shirt, and it's fair to say he has carried the team on many occasions this season.
There is no set role which seems to fit Mount better than others. He can be as effective as an ‘8’ as he is operating behind the striker, or even in a wide position.
But with the 3-4-3 ensuring Chelsea are well-covered in most areas, Tuchel can afford to let Mount off the leash, roam in a free role like Lionel Messi does for Barcelona and punish the Leicester backline with his skill.
Put Abraham in the squad
It is an indictment of Chelsea’s attackers that Tammy Abraham remains their joint-top scorer on 12 goals in all competitions when he has only featured for 240 minutes since Tuchel’s arrival.
The 23-year-old’s consistent absence from Tuchel’s 20-man squad is a clear message that the England international is not in his plans, yet it begs the question: why not?
Abraham scored 15 Premier League goals last season and has six in 22 appearances at present. What he may lack in composure and ball control he more than makes up for with his movement and aerial ability.
He was left out again of the squad for the FA Cup final, with Tuchel preferring to name two left-backs, Ben Chilwell and Emerson, as substitutes instead.
Surely, with Chelsea struggling for goals, Abraham must be given his chance to shine — at least from the bench.
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