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

Comments (0)
Thomas Tuchel Maurizio Sarri Chelsea GFX
Getty/Goal
The pattern of play led to comparisons with managers of old, but the 47-year-old's football philosophy was only visible in a few ways

Chelsea 0-0 Wolves: Match statistics

Thomas Tuchel's first starting line-up as Chelsea manager evoked memories of Antonio Conte, but Wednesday night's performance at Stamford Bridge was more reminiscent of the Maurizio Sarri era as the hosts were held scoreless by Wolves in a dour 0-0 draw.

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 broke records in terms of passes and possession but they were ultimately 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 an 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. "We want to create and score chances."

Callum Hudson-Odoi Chelsea GFX

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, 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. 

Article continues below

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.

He has brought in to save Chelsea's season and he doesn't have much time to do it. Roman Abramovich is not a patient man. Conte, Sarri and Lampard can all vouch for that.

Close