The return of Sarriball? Tuchel’s Chelsea make a bad first impression with dour draw with Wolves

Thomas Tuchel Maurizio Sarri Chelsea GFX

Chelsea 0-0 Wolves: Match statistics

The bottom line was that it was all very different from Frank Lampard’s brief reign, with both Mason Mount and Reece James dropped as the new manager put his faith in more experienced players.

Chelsea also adopted a Conte-like 3-4-3, the formation which famously propelled the Blues to the title in 2017, but it didn’t reap immediate dividends for Tuchel.

The Blues enjoyed a record-breaking share of possession in the first half but they were frustrated by Wolves and their low block.
All the ball, then, but no penetration. Comparisons with ‘Sarriball’ were inevitable.

However, it would be wrong to jump to any conclusions or be too harsh on Tuchel for what was underwhelming debut. After all, he only took over the day before the game. He had precious little time to get to know his players, let alone inspire a dramatic upturn in Chelsea’s fortunes.

“You cannot imagine the last 48 hours, 72 hours, it’s all a bit surreal,” the German told BT Sport before kick-off. “We are here now and it is amazing but it was crazy.”

It was certainly an unusual build-up, with Tuchel taking his first and, to date, only training session at 6pm on Tuesday evening, just over 24 hours after Lampard’s sacking had been confirmed.

Such was the tight turnaround that Tuchel hadn’t even entered the stadium before he arrived for the match, while his assistants struggled to operate the video system in the dugout ahead of kick-off.

Tuchel was nonetheless optimistic. “I hope we will attack and play brave football,” he added to BT Sport. “We want to create and score chances.”

They did fashion two big openings. In the first instance, Olivier Giroud missed the ball completely as he tried to get on the end of a cross from Callum Hudson-Odoi, who was surprisingly deployed at wing-back and was Chelsea’s best performer on the night.

The other good chance fell to Ben Chilwell, who lifted Kai Havertz’s brilliant cutback high over the goal at the Matthew Harding End.

Still, there were some positives to draw from an otherwise dull encounter, chief among them Havertz, who produced his best football in months.

Tuchel put his fellow German back in his preferred No.10 position and was rewarded with an encouraging display that hinted at better things to come.

However, for all the talk of Tuchel being brought in specifically to get the best out of his compatriots, he actually decided to leave struggling striker Timo Werner out of his first match at the helm.

The former RB Leipzig attacker will doubtless have a big role to play going forward, though, and Tuchel will doubtless be keen to move on from this game and get to work on the training ground.

Chelsea don’t play again until Sunday – an age in the current, congested climate – and the former Paris Saint-Germain coach will be determined to make the most of this time to really get his ideas across so that he can make the most of his dream post in the Premier League.

He is a renowned tactician and his first team selection certainly sparked interest in how exactly his Chelsea will line up in the future. In the end, though, he failed to get the win he was desperately seeking.

The level of domination provides hope but there’s no escaping the fact that Tuchel needs to start racking up points as quickly as possible, with Chelsea eighth in the Premier League standings.

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