Chelsea squad depth myth expelled in Premier League and Champions League setbacks

Tuchel's damning assessment of Chelsea's draw at Zenit

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Chelsea have been deeply affected by injuries in recent weeks but they have spent lavishly to cover themselves for such situations. Except those brought in are not quite up to scratch as Thomas Tuchel would like.

Many have commended Chelsea for their fantastic squad depth this season and towards the end of the last campaign.

After all, the Blues stormed to the Champions League title after bringing Thomas Tuchel to the club – beating the likes of Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Manchester City along the way.

And for large portions of this season, the west London side had been coasting in the Premier League – leading Liverpool and City and looking good value for the title.

But the festive period has been cruel to the Blues, with some key injuries to the side – all three of Chelsea’s current midfield maestros are out.

Jorginho, N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic are all absent, while Ben Chilwell could potentially miss the rest of the season.

The importance of this quartet cannot be understated – anyone missing them would feel the effects.

However, this is why the super clubs splash the cash – to make sure when these problems arise that they can cope and continue their unrelenting dominance.

It is heard every week how Chelsea’s squad depth is among the best in the world yet those that are now being called upon are yet to corroborate that claim.

Marcos Alonso has looked uneasy every time he has the ball at his feet, Christian Pulisic has failed to live up to his promise this season and Saul Niguez is on course to become one of the worst transfers the club has ever had.

In Chelsea’s 3-2 loss to West Ham at the weekend, they conceded a third of the total number of goals let in all season in the Premier League.

They followed that up with a 3-3 draw against Zenit St Petersburg where, if not for Kepa Arrizabalaga’s heroics, it could have been a lot worse.

For a side that prides itself on its defensive work, conceding six in less than a week will ring the alarms bells at Stamford Bridge.

With just a few, albeit key, players missing through injury, it has shattered the illusion that Chelsea’s squad depth is the undisputed best in the world.

Liverpool have had some important stars of their own missing – Roberto Firmino, Fabinho and Diogo Jota have all spent time on the sidelines this season – but it has done little to disturb their flow.

Perhaps the most talented player in the Premier League in Kevin de Bruyne has been largely in the physio room instead of on the pitch, while the likes of Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez have all spent time on the sidelines – they now sit top of the Premier League.

Many have had Chelsea as their winners this season but until Tuchel can get a tune out of the fringe stars at Stamford Bridge, they may just end up trailing City and Liverpool once again.

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