Chelsea frustrated by Wolves as Thomas Tuchel's first game ends goalless
Premier League, Stamford Bridge - Chelsea 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
Thomas Tuchel the head coach / manager of Chelsea looks on with a banner for former head coach / manager Frank Lampard above him during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge on January 27, 2021 in London,
Thomas Tuchel could be forgiven for rethinking his commitment to English football after a miserable game in miserable conditions got the miserable result it deserved, Chelsea having more of the possession but Wolves creating the best scoring opportunity, Pedro Neto’s scoop hitting the top of the bar. As such, Chelsea move above Arsenal into eighth, while Wolves move above Palace into 13th.
Chelsea had by far the better of an absolutely rancid first half, dominating possession against a Wolves side visibly lacking confidence, but without the wit, speed or zest to create anything, their best chance a cross from Callum Hudson-Odoi with which Olivier Giroud failed to connect.
Joyously, the second half was every bit as dreadful, Chelsea equally impotent on the ball and Wolves slightly more lively on the counter, and no one forced to sit through it will have lamented its conclusion. Ultimately these are two sides devoid of tempo, rhythm and confidence and both managers have a lot of work to do.
Tuchel on goalless draw with Wolves: 'I was very happy with our intensity'
Whether you call it confidence, ego or both, Thomas Tuchel has it – or them – in a abundance, and his first Chelsea XI exuded all of that. Not only did he exclude Mason Mount, the club’s best player this season, but Reece James too, while bringing in an old friend, the previously out of favour Toni Rudiger - as well as changing formation. He pleaded ignorance, claiming his selection was unfair on those who missed out, so little time had he had with his new players, but rather than play down his preferences it drew attention to them, because in such circumstances, most managers would change little then work out what needed to be done thereafter.
Not Tuchel, who sent out a team that suggested he's not only been watching Chelsea play, but in so doing has formed definite ideas about how they can improve. In such circumstance, it was relatively unsurprising to see Callum Hudson-Odoi, given few opportunities under Frank Lampard, handed a start. What was extremely surprising was that he turned into Cafu Hudson-Odoi, stuck at wing-back. In the event, he was one of the better players on display - which says very little - but could surely have done more playing as a winger.
In fairness to Tuchel, Wolves - who sit back and deny space at the best of times - are the last team anyone would want to play in such circumstances, never mind Wolves shorn of confidence and their best attacker. Nevertheless, it was troubling to see a midfield pivot of Jorginho, already proven to be too slow for the Premier League, and Mateo Kovacic, Tuchel the latest manager to try and solve the age-old riddle of what it is that he does. Wde remain none the wiser.
Eventually, Tuchel buckled - later than made sense - sending on Pulisic and Abraham, followed by Mount, the former and latter making a difference. They - and Chelsea fans - must hope that his mind is not already made up.
Thomas Tuchel, Manager of Chelsea embraces Mason Mount of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge on January 27
Image credit: Getty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH
RON (Re-open nominations) In co-commentary, Glenn Hoddle went for Hudson-Odoi but only because he had to go for someone. The reality, though, is that in an absolute dog of a match, no player made any sort of case.
Chelsea completed 820 passes and recorded 78.9% possession, the highest totals by a team in their manager’s first Premier League game in charge since since the start of 2003-04.
5’ - Excellent from Hudson-Odoi, shifting it to blaze past Kilman and slam a superb low cross through the corridor of uncertainty. It comes quick but Giroud should still finish ... and he can't get a touch! On the touchline, Tuchel cries out in pain.
61’ - This is better. Kovacic snaps a decent ball for Havertz, hitting the line, and his cut-back is perfectly weighted ... only for Chilwell to snatch at it, lamping well over the bar.
71’ - Neto gets by Azpilicueta and finds Podence, who plays him back in like a bull marking its ground, and suddenly he bursts by Silva and he's in! But the ball is under his feet and the keeper is close, so he opts for a scoop when he might drive ... and clips the top of the bar!
82’ - Pulisic weaves down the right, sitting Semedo down with a duck back inside. He then lays back to Ziyech, who tees up Kovacic, and his curled side-footer ruffles the wrong side of the side-netting.
89’ - Excllent from Wolves, Traore running into space for the first time and finding Neto, who slings a fine crossfield pass over to Dendoncker on the far side! Can he win it! No! Cafu Hudson-Odoi chases back and makes a fine intervention.
90+3’ - Chelsea win a corner and Big Kai Havertz is up! He powers a header goalwards, but someone, no idea who, deflects it over the bar! ™áÿ¿