Chelsea’s 4-0 thrashing of Juventus saw manager Thomas Tuchel bring up a notable milestone at the club, the German having now been in charge for 50 games in all competitions since his appointment at the end of January.
Despite facing the difficulties of attempting to revive the club’s fortunes midway through a season, the former Paris Saint-Germain boss made an instant impact at Stamford Bridge, sparking a rapid transformation in performances and leading the club to European glory just months after walking in the door.
That has proved to be no flash in the pan, however, with the Blues currently top of the Premier League and into the Champions League knockout stages with a game to spare, having been in imperious form so far this season.
Chelsea’s success has been built on their defensive strength and we’ve decided to look at how Tuchel’s record compares to Chelsea managers since the turn of the century.
Here are the Chelsea managers to have conceded the fewest goals in their first 50 fixtures.
Antonio Conte – 49
Much like Tuchel, Antonio Conte thrived at Chelsea after adopting a back five system, switching to the formation following an early season defeat at Arsenal.
The change sparked an instant upturn in performances for Chelsea as Conte ended his debut season as a title winner, notably winning 13 straight games following the 3-0 loss to the Gunners.
As he had done at Juventus, Conte used defence as the bedrock of his success, a solid foundation allowing the likes of Eden Hazard and Diego Costa run riot in attack. The change in system also brought the best from previously unfavored players, with both Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso flourishing at wing-back.
After an almost impeccable first season in charge, however, things began to sour the following year amid transfer window frustrations and declining on-field form, as the defending champions ended the season in a disappointing fifth, albeit while clinching the FA Cup with victory over Manchester United in his final game in charge.
That decline spelled the end for Conte’s time at the club in 2018, although he has since made a return to English football after replacing Nuno Espirito Santo at London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
Maurizio Sarri – 46
With Conte shown the door, Chelsea turned to his fellow countryman Maurizio Sarri to take the club forward, the chain-smoking veteran having worked wonders during a three-year stint in charge at Napoli.
An impressive start to the campaign saw the Italian avoid defeat in his opening 12 Premier League games, although failed to truly implement his so-called ‘Sarri-ball’ style effectively at Chelsea, with summer signing Jorginho often bearing the brunt of the criticism.
Notable low moments included a 4-0 defeat to Bournemouth in late January and the 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City just ten days later.
Those results had seemingly left the former Empoli boss on borrowed time, with the Carabao Cup final debacle involving Kepa Arrizabalaga only further serving to tarnish is reputation, as the Spanish stopper repeatedly refused to leave the field of play ahead of the impending penalty shootout.
Sarri’s side would go on to lose the showpiece, although he did pick up his first major honour as a manager at the end of the season after winning the Europa League, in what proved to be his final game in charge before his departure for Juventus.
The 62-year-old is currently in charge of Lazio, after joining the Serie A side in the summer.
Carlo Ancelotti – 44
Another Italian to have taken the reins in west London, like most on this list Carlo Ancelotti’s time in charge was fleeting, having only lasted two seasons at the club before he was moved on at the end of the 2010/11 campaign.
Fresh from a trophy-laden eight-year stint at AC Milan, the legendary coach arrived at Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2009 with the aim of attempting to end Manchester United’s three-year title dominance.
The new boss set the tone for what would be a fine season by beating Sir Alex Ferguson’s side in the Community Shield in his first game in charge, going on to end the campaign a point ahead of the Red Devils as title winners.
Ancelotti’s men had ensured their coronation with an 8-0 thrashing of Wigan Athletic on the final day, becoming the first team in Premier League history to score over 100 goals in a season (103) in the process.
The Italian had no doubt been aided by a squad that was at the peak of their powers, including the key duo of Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, the two men netting 22 and 29 league goals respectively to secure career-best figures.
The Blues followed that success with an FA Cup triumph over Portsmouth at the end of the season, before Ancelotti was unceremoniously shown the door a year later despite finishing second. After a return to the Premier League with Everton the 62-year-old serial winner is now back at Real Madrid.
Avram Grant – 32
It may come as a surprise to some that Avram Grant actually managed to reach 50 games in charge, having only taken the job early in the 2007/08 campaign before moving on at the end of that season.
The footballing world was stunned when the inexperienced and under-qualified unknown quantity was handed the reins following the sacking of Jose Mourinho in September 2007, although the Israeli would defy the odds to steer the club to a maiden Champions League final.
But for an unfortunate slip from John Terry he may well have been a European champion, although as it was he would end the campaign empty-handed and without a job, having been handed the sack despite only signing a four-year deal a few months earlier.
To his credit Grant had successfully managed to steady the ship after a toxic and acrimonious end to Mourinho’s tenure, although fell short both in the title race and in the League Cup final, losing to Tottenham Hotspur in the showpiece.
While his time at the club was brief – taking charge for just 54 games – he enjoyed an impressive win rate of 66.67% in all competitions, although failed to build on that potential promise with disappointing stints at the likes of Portsmouth and West Ham United.
There was even suggestion that he could make a sensational return to Stamford Bridge following Frank Lampard’s sacking, before the club instead opted to move for Tuchel.
Jose Mourinho – 27
Few have the quality nor the character to label themselves as the ‘Special One’ and then duly deliver, yet the aforementioned Mourinho did just that upon his arrival at Chelsea in 2004, having guided surprise package Porto to Champions League glory the previous season.
In a stunning debut campaign, the Portuguese secured the club’s maiden Premier League title in emphatic fashion, romping to a then-record tally of 95 points and finishing 12 points clear of champions Arsenal.
Such was their dominance, the Blues conceded just 15 league goals all season and registered 25 clean sheets, all while going the entire league campaign unbeaten at home – a run that lasted the entirety of his first spell in charge.
José Mourinho’s 2004/05 Chelsea side set the record for fewest goals conceded in a single Premier League season.
15 goals conceded in 38 games is obscene. 😳 pic.twitter.com/NwQL31UjUq
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 26, 2020
The league title was wrapped up in a similarly comfortable manner the following season, although cracks began to emerge during the 2006/07 campaign, leading to his eventual departure at the start of the next season.
After similarly short but successful spells at both Inter Milan and Real Madrid, Mourinho returned to Chelsea and once again delivered the title in the 2014/15 season, albeit before his second stint at the club came to another bitter end the following year.
After turbulent spells at both Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, the 58-year-old is now in charge at AS Roma.
Thomas Tuchel – 24
Topping this list is current boss Thomas Tuchel, the German having enjoyed an almost flawless first 50 games in charge, having already won the Champions League and the UEFA Super Cup, as well as converted the club into genuine title contenders this season.
In his half-century of games in the dugout, the former Borussia Dortmund boss has won 32, drawn 11 and lost just seven times, notably keeping 31 clean sheets during that period and conceding just 24 goals.
Not only are his achievements remarkable, it is the speed at which he has managed to transform the Blues since his arrival at the end of January, with his predecessor Lampard having left the club adrift of the Champions League places.
50 – This was Thomas Tuchel’s 50th match in charge of Chelsea in all competitions, and 32nd win (D11 L7). The Blues have kept 31 clean sheets in those 50 games, more than any other side in Europe’s big-five leagues in this period, conceding just 24 goals. Elite. pic.twitter.com/yZg0FmizK7
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 23, 2021
It is also interesting to note the clear progression that the 48-year-old has made with a full pre-season under his belt, with recent performances suggesting that the Blues are way beyond where they were even at the end of last season – a scary prospect for the rest of Europe.
While he is no doubt aided by a stellar squad full to the brim of top-class talent, he has thus far managed to rotate those assets in expert fashion, while also introducing young stars like Trevoh Chalobah and reintegrating the likes of Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
It could be argued that the latest outing was the finest performance of the Tuchel tenure thus far, as he witnessed his side inflict Juventus’ heaviest ever Champions League defeat, doing so without even having to risk the returning Romelu Lukaku who watched on from the bench.