Thomas Tuchel plans to push Tammy Abraham “to his limits” and remains convinced he can get the best out of the striker at Chelsea.
Abraham is the Blues’ top scorer in all competitions this season but was an unused substitute as Chelsea defeated Atletico Madrid 1-0 in their Champions League last-16 first-leg tie last week.
The England striker did not even make the bench for Sunday’s drab goalless draw against Manchester United with Olivier Giroud – the match-winner versus Atleti – chosen to lead the line and Timo Werner coming off the bench.
Abraham had previously made five appearances, four from the start, and scored once since Tuchel was chosen as Frank Lampard’s successor towards the end of January.
Tuchel insists Abraham’s omission is not a punishment and merely a reflection of the strength in depth currently at his disposal.
“I think [I can get the best out of him], and this is my job to push him to his limits,” Tuchel said at a news conference previewing Thursday’s trip to Anfield to face Liverpool.
“We will not stop doing this in supporting him. This was a tough decision, but when things are like now, with hopefully nobody injured, we have these decisions to make.
“It’s a part of my job which I do not like, but at the same time I like because it means we have everybody available. And then you have to make these decisions, which we communicate normally clearly.
“We have to cut it down to 18 players, so in the end it’s not always a punishment or a signal to a player who is not in the squad.
“And in this case it was exactly like this. It was not a punishment or a signal, it was just a choice from the alternatives, on which position, who starts, who could come from the bench.”
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) March 2, 2021
HOW DOES ABRAHAM RANK AGAINST OTHER OPTIONS?
Since breaking into the first team at Stamford Bridge at the start of last season, Abraham has been a bit of an anomaly in the sense he seems to regularly score goals, yet has never quite had the complete trust in his ability to perform consistently at an elite level.
But is that fair?
Well, the evidence this season suggests Abraham has shown he is good enough to lead the line, albeit – perhaps unsurprisingly – there are areas of his game that need to improve.
Abraham’s 12 goals across all competitions is the highest among Chelsea players this season, with Giroud on 11 and Werner on 10.
A shot-conversion rate of 25.53 per cent ranks third for the team. Only Giroud (27.5) and Jorginho (50) are above him, while Werner (13.3) – whose own issues in front of goal have been well documented during his debut campaign in England – is down in ninth.
Abraham’s 47 shots and 21 on target are the third and second best in the respective categories, with Werner (75 and 34) top in both. Giroud (40 and 20) is fourth and third.
In terms of shooting accuracy, Abraham (51.22 per cent) languishes down the list for the Chelsea squad, well below the accuracy displayed by both Giroud (60.61) and Werner (58.62).
However, he is top for Opta-defined big-chances scored on 10 (Werner and Giroud are on eight and six apiece), while his big-chance conversion rate of 62.5 per cent is substantially better than Giroud (42.86) and Werner (30.77)
And his average of a goal every 126.58 minutes is comfortably ahead of Werner at 255.9, although Giroud’s stands at an impressive 96.91.
So, just what is Abraham missing right now?
“He lacks a little bit of luck, Tammy, not only in games but also in training,” Tuchel explained.
“And once the last touch comes back, and he’s fighting for it now, he will stay a player that we will push for.”