Good, Bad and Ugly: Thomas Tuchel’s trust in Chelsea’s doubted attacking duo was not repaid against Manchester City as his beloved duo excel.
Thomas Tuchel surprised everyone when Chelsea’s starting lineup at The Etihad on Saturday lunchtime did not include Mason Mount.
Mount, who missed September’s reverse clash through injury, had been instrumental to Chelsea’s two victories over Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final and Champions League final.
Instead, the duo of Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic flanked Romelu Lukaku in a front three as Tuchel reverted from his recently tried 4-2-2-2 formation into his more familiar 3-4-3.
Another notable inclusions were Malang Sarr starting only his second Premier League game for the club after a good performance in the Carabao Cup against Spurs in the back-three.
The selection from Tuchel did not prove effective as Chelsea lost 1-0 to Man City, meaning they are now 13 points behind Pep Guardiola’s men, effectively ending the Blues chances in the title race thanks to a Kevin De Bruyne strike.
In a new post-match series for CareFreeChelsea, we will be dissecting the Good, Bad and Ugly of Chelsea performances.
Bad: Pulisic fails Hazard test
The American’s dramatic equaliser against Liverpool could have provided a perfect springboard to kickstart a strong 2022.
But this chance to start in a blockbuster clash did not lead to more good memories for Christian Pulisic. The most damning thing you can say about the 23-year-old’s contribution was how anonymous he was in the game.
Passive in possession when he could’ve taken more risks, this was a test his predecessor Eden Hazard used to thrive in, but Tuchel won’t miss Pulisic’s inability to influence proceeding.
Ugly: Tuchel fury at Ziyech
In a similar boat to Pulisic, Ziyech’s performance was equally damaging for his hope of future minutes and trust under Tuchel.
A woefully overhit pass in the fast half prevented Romelu Lukaku from bursting through summed up the lack of accuracy in his game, rounded off by a terrible shot over the City bar after Ederson saved Lukaku’s shot at the start of the second.
The Moroccan wildcard had seemingly taken a step forward against Spurs, but his poor end product sparked fury from Tuchel and the Chelsea fan base.
Good: Tuchel’s double six
In what turned out to be a disappointing day, Thomas Tuchel’s favoured midfield duo of Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante still impressed.
The Croatian was let off the hook by Kepa Arrizabalaga in the first half after he lost the ball in a dangerous position.
But as the game progressed, both stood above the inaccuracy of their teammates, trying their best to cultivate inspiration from a mostly flat performance.
Kovacic’s perfect through ball created Chelsea’s best chance of the day for the visitors, only for Lukaku’s effort to be stopped by Ederson with a fine save.
Keeping both players fit will remain crucial for the rest of the season, especially with Tuchel hoping to instil a higher tempo pace to Chelsea’s play.