Things haven’t been rosy in the garden at Stamford Bridge recently and a run of poor form, added to by Covid and injury issues and a now notorious interview from their new star striker has seen Chelsea slip to as high as 30/1 on some of the top betting sites to be crowned Premier League champions this season.
The Champions League holders were flying high in November as they topped the table and were cut in as tight as 5/2 to claim the title that they have won six times in their history. But, a shoddy December saw them win just three league games from seven attempts, and they are also currently on a run of only one victory in their last five league outings.
That has allowed Man City to steal a march on Thomas Tuchel’s men, and it already looks like the distance that Chelsea have to claw back is too great. Asked if they could somehow find a way to wrestle back top spot, former Chelsea midfielder Emmanuel Petit was not positive on their chances.
“It will be very difficult for Chelsea to catch Manchester City in the Premier League,” Petit told bookmakers.co.uk. “To be honest, Chelsea don't have the quality right now to come back from this gap.”
To make matters worse, Tuchel has also been tied up with internal disciplinary issues lately, as it already seems that Romelu Lukaku is unhappy at the club having just returned for a £97.5m fee in August.
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Lukaku had initially joined the club from Anderlecht in the summer of 2011, but he didn’t score a goal for The Blues and found himself sent out on loan to West Bromwich Albion and Everton, until eventually exiting the club for The Toffees in 2014.
Spells at Manchester United and Inter Milan followed, but his time in Italy appears to have left a mark on him and despite only being back at Stamford Bridge a mere five months, Lukaku gave an extremely honest interview to Sky Italia in which he admitted he was “not happy with the situation” at Chelsea and talked up a return to Inter.
To Tuchel’s credit he moved swiftly, dropping him from the squad for a huge game with title rivals Liverpool and fining the big Belgian striker. A meeting also took place between the pair, and Lukaku has subsequently apologised for the controversial interview.
Lukaku started to rebuild his relationship with the Chelsea supporters by scoring in the club’s 5-1 demolition of Chesterfield in the FA Cup, and there is no doubting if he is motivated, that he is one of the deadliest strikers in world football.
After all, this is a man who has netted 118 Premier League goals in just 265 appearances. So, if The Blues can get him firing again not only can they start winning regularly, but they should shoot up the odds on the best betting apps to retain the Champions League too.
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Chelsea And Lukaku Need Each Other
The Lukaku interview sparked headlines across the world, but when Petit was given the chance to offer his opinion on the matter, he was quick to offer some words of wisdom to the Chelsea striker.
“Chelsea need Lukaku, and he needs Chelsea,” said Petit.
“I like Romelu Lukaku as a person and a player. But, I just don't understand the reason for doing that interview. The timing was very bad. It happened exactly when Chelsea were struggling for results and with their displays. I know that the interview was done a month earlier than when it was released, but Lukaku is an experienced guy, and he knew what the repercussions of saying what he said would be when he said it.
“He left Inter, and Italy, with a bad relationship with the fans. You could see that in some of the messages supporters had written about him during some games. Then he arrived at Chelsea saying beautiful things. He said something like it was a dream to come back to England, to his beloved club Chelsea and this was a revenge mission for him. So, what the hell?
“He goes and does this interview, and I really don't know what he was planning in his mind. But, I just have one bit of advice to give him, ‘be careful with the fans’. The fine Lukaku received from the club was fine for me, and I just hope that meeting he had with the club and Tuchel was based on honest feelings.”
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Is Confidence An Issue For Thomas Tuchel?
Being a regular at Paris Saint-Germain games since his retirement, Petit got to witness Thomas Tuchel’s management style first hand when he took charge of the Parisians between May 2018 and December 2020. Tuchel won back-to-back Ligue 1s with PSG, before moving on to Chelsea in January 2021 and winning the Champions League last season.
Petit, though, has started to notice certain similarities with Tuchel's management currently, to when he was coming to the end of his time at PSG.
He said: “What is happening on the pitch for Chelsea now, reminds me of what it was like under Tuchel at Paris Saint-Germain when things started to go wrong there.
“Trouble started in newspapers, the pressure came on from the media and fans, powerful players within the club were questioning him all the time and it continued week after week. You could see that physically he had changed during the press conferences and on the bench in games.
“That cool attitude he has just wasn't there. He was getting aggressive and was also looking for excuses from outside the club.”
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Petit did acknowledge that the issue with Lukaku really hasn’t helped Tuchel’s cause at Chelsea, but he reckons the German has lost the swagger he had when he landed at Stamford Bridge.
“What happened with Lukaku was like throwing oil on a fire, and all of a sudden it explodes,” he said.
“The club are the current Champions League holders and they won that after Thomas Tuchel arrived. They have done very well in terms of results, fighting spirit and teamwork. Tuchel also used to do a very good job in terms of tactics as well, but for the last few weeks - and I don't know if it is because of the results, players not being available because of injuries and Covid or his relationships with some players - he looks very nervous.
“Tuchel doesn't appear to have the same confidence he once had at Chelsea.”
Thomas Tuchel is available at 17/1 with Betfair to be the next Premier League manager to leave his post.
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As the Stamford Bridge outfit look to turn their form around, the January transfer window has opened and a long-term injury to wing-back Ben Chilwell has left them a little short in that position - especially with Emerson currently out on loan at Lyon.
Chelsea have been linked with a move for France international Theo Hernandez and Petit believes his former club should waste no time in swooping for the AC Milan man.
“A transfer to Chelsea would definitely be the right move for Theo Hernandez,” said the World Cup winner with France.
“He is the captain of AC Milan and he doesn't speak too much. But, he is a young guy and he has got so much energy and personality in the way that he plays.
“He is a perfect fit for the Premier League. He has got the mentality, he's a leader, a big character and most importantly of all, he's a good defender. If I was a manager, I would be more than happy to get this type of guy into my team.”