Malmo 0-1 Chelsea: Thomas Tuchel reaction
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Chelsea are riding high under Thomas Tuchel, top of the Premier League and on the brink of qualification for the last-16 of the Champions League. The Blues’ 1-0 win over Malmo on Tuesday night was the team’s seventh in succession in all competitions and they will be confident of extending that run against Burnley on Saturday.
Thomas Tuchel’s side have been ruthlessly efficient in recent weeks, dispatching whatever opponent is put in front of them.
That is despite the German manager rotating his squad with regularity and the team being without injured strikers Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner.
The hallmark of Chelsea this season – and under Tuchel in general – has been a rock-solid defence.
Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Malmo saw the team record their 10th clean sheet of the season in all competitions in what was only their 17th match. They have conceded just seven goals all season – and never more than one in a single game.
Southampton are the only team to have breached the Blues’ defence in over a month – and Che Adams’ goal meant little, as Chelsea won the penalty shoot-out to reach the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup anyway.
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While the revolving line-up of defenders have been impressive, the bedrock of Chelsea’s defensive record has undoubtedly been goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.
Mendy is the undisputed number one keeper in both the Premier League and Champions League, limiting £72million man Kepa Arrizabalaga to Carabao Cup duty.
His selection ahead of Kepa is based on solid reasoning: since Tuchel took charge in January, the team has kept 29 clean sheets – at least nine more in all competitions than any other side in the big five European leagues.
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That is hugely impressive – and it is on the biggest stage of all where Mendy has really shone, with 12 clean sheets in 16 Champions League appearances for Chelsea.
Of course, it helps having the likes of Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger, Cesar Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen in front of you.
But Mendy has been exceptional in all aspects of goalkeeping ever since he arrived at Stamford Bridge.
And that is another startling factor of his rise: Mendy joined Chelsea from unheralded Rennes for £22m in September 2020.
He was by far the least eye-catching arrival last summer, joining in the midst of a huge recruitment drive at the club.
The 29-year-old was the least expensive of the five major signings under Frank Lampard at the beginning of the 2020/21 season.
Kai Havertz (£72m), Ben Chilwell (£50m), Timo Werner (£47m) and Hakim Ziyech (£36m) all cost significantly more than Mendy and yet he has arguably had the biggest impact of the lot.
Mendy is the complete package as a goalkeeper. He is a calming and organising influence on his defence, but still acts with great authority.
And most importantly, he is a fantastic shot-stopper, as was in evidence during Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Brentford last month.
Even if his form dips over the coming months, Chelsea will know the importance of his recruitment during the summer splurge under Lampard.
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