Soccer-Chelsea's wingers shine as Tuchel reshapes the Blues


Soccer Football - Premier League - Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur - Stamford Bridge, London, Britain - January 23, 2022 Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel REUTERS/David Klein

LONDON (Reuters) - Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel turned injury and COVID-19 problems into an opportunity on Sunday when he reshaped his side and was rewarded by two outstanding performances by Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Tuchel said he had opted to push the two wingers into wider, more attacked-minded positions than usual in response to absences in his backline, with Andreas Christensen out with COVID and Trevoh Chalobah only able to make it to the bench after an injury.

Wingbacks Ben Chilwell and Reece James are also out with long-term injuries.

Tuchel, asked about Ziyech's fine performance which was capped by an outstanding goal in the 47th minute, said the unusual shape he deployed against Spurs gave the Moroccan the opportunity to take risks.

"It was one of his best matches today because he was very reliable," Tuchel told reporters. "It's perhaps also his best position, wide on the wing."

Hudson-Odoi also revelled in the space up front against Spurs, free of the usual defensive requirements of him under Tuchel's more familiar team structure. It was his surging dribble that created the chance for Ziyech's curling strike.

But Tuchel still has to find a way to get the best out of Chelsea's record signing Romelu Lukaku who missed two good opportunities to put Chelsea ahead in the first half and was denied by Spurs goalkeeper Huge Lloris after the break.

The Belgium centre-forward has scored only five goals in the league so far this season, and only two since September, although he had two spells on the sidelines with an injury and COVID.

(Reporting by William Schomberg, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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