Soccer

Three things Thomas Tuchel did right and one he got wrong for Chelsea

Both of Chelsea’s summer signings were unleashed against Aston Villa for the first time at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, with Saul Niguez handed a full debut.

The Spaniard arrived on a season-long loan from Atletico Madrid on deadline day and was gifted the chance to show how his work on the training ground has paid off during the international break.

He came into the team with £98million man Romelu Lukaku, who had featured in Chelsea’s previous matches against Arsenal and Liverpool, but he was making his Stamford Bridge return as a Blue.

The Belgian followed up his recent performances with two stunning finishes to guide Chelsea to a 3-0 victory.

He latched onto a great pass from Mateo Kovacic, dipped inside the sliding Ezri Konsa, and finished low past Villa goalkeeper Jed Steer. Then he fired into the top corner to seal the points late on.

While the former Inter Milan and Manchester United forward was bustling against Tyrone Mings, Chelsea’s most recent signing was buzzing around the midfield with Mateo Kovacic.

However, his inclusion alongside Kovacic was one of many interesting decisions Tuchel made in this contest.

Star Sport looks at three things Tuchel got right and one he got wrong at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening…

Lukaku looking lively

How good is Romelu Lukaku looking right now? He is absolutely thriving within Chelsea’s 3-4-3 formation.

With two layers of support thanks to the inside forwards and the wing-backs, he benefits this Chelsea side when he runs in behind, and when he drops in short.

Tuchel appears to have offered the Belgian an attacking freedom no other manager has offered him, and the former Inter Milan and Manchester United striker is delivering on all fronts.

His pace in behind to latch onto Kovacic’s through ball was followed up by incredible awareness, close control, and speed of thought to sit Ezri Konsa down, before finishing.

Then he thumped home another in stoppage time to make it three goals in three games.

He looks to be the ultimate centre-forward Chelsea have not had since Didier Drogba and Tuchel is maximising every single one of his qualities.

He will take some stopping this season in his pursuit of the Golden Boot.

Saul's debut to forget

Saul Niguez was fielded as a Chelsea player for the first time, partnering Kovacic in the midfield.

With Jorginho on the bench and N’Golo Kante yet to recover from his niggling ankle injury, it was a huge chance for Saul to show Thomas Tuchel what he is made off.

Unfortunately, the Spaniard struggled to make an impression and did not register a single tackle after 30 minutes.

After Chelsea opened through Lukaku, Villa took their game up another gear and began to take the game to The Blues.

Dean Smith’s side’s ability to control the game at the Stamford Bridge, and Saul’s inability to get on the ball or cut off Villa’s passing lanes would be of great concern to Tuchel.

He was hauled off at half-time for Jorginho, who immediately helped Chelsea get back into control, suggesting his transition to English football may not be easy as first thought.

Clinical Kovacic

While Saul’s performance raised many questions, Mateo Kovacic perhaps answered many of his.

His energy, impeccable footwork, and ability to get himself out of tight spaces has always been outstanding, but his final product always left critics wanting more.

But his phenomenal, Cesc Fabregas-esque through ball for Lukaku’s goal sliced Villa open on the counter-attack.

The Croatian’s immense performance was firmly rewarded with a firmly rewarded when he reacted to Tyrone Mings' mistake and clinically dispatched the finish.

His display would have been a reassuring tonic to Blues fans worried about Kante's injury.

Mount's surprise omission

Mount dropped to the bench to make way for Hakim Ziyech after playing in all three of England’s matches against Hungary, Andorra, and Poland.

It was an interesting choice from Tuchel, as Ziyech’s qualities are very different to those of Mount, with the Moroccan.

And it looked like Chelsea were missing Mount’s drive and energy off the ball, as Villa played through the first press at will.

Ziyech is arguably the slowest of Chelsea’s attackers, and prefers to receive the ball into his feet, rather than on the run.

While he put in some sumptuous crosses and passes, he does not provide the same levels of energy and work-rate as Mount

Thiago Silva’s first outing

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The Brazilian was not expected to be cleared for this match having only recently returned from red-list Brazil. However, he was inserted into the heart of the back three for his first league start of the contest.

His excellent organisation and experience shown through during the match.

He came to his side’s rescue when Watkins got in between Chalobah and Silva and bared down on goal.

The goal was at his mercy when he toed the ball past Mendy, but the Brazilian defied his age, flying in from out of nowhere and blocking his goal bound effort from 12-yards.

Chelsea’s thorn in the right side

With Reece James suspended, Chelsea had to make some big changes to their defence.

Tuchel opted for pace and creativity ahead of experience and solidity, as the German deployed Callum Hudson-Odoi at right-wing-back instead of Cesar Azpilicueta.

Curiously, their club captain did not start at all, and the promising but inexperienced Trevoh Chalobah started on the right-hand side of the back three.

While he enjoyed another promising showing, he did need Edouard Mendy to rescue him where Ollie Watkins outwitted him shortly after Chelsea’s first goal.

Watkins latched onto a ball in behind, cut inside off Chalobah, before seeing his crisp low shot beating away for a corner by Mendy at the near post.

The failure to see Watkins down the line onto his weak foot, was perhaps the first bit of blatant, raw inexperience seen in Chalobah since he broke into the side.

While Chelsea secured the points in the end, Tuchel will be left wondering what a stronger finisher would have done if faced in the same position.

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