Leeds United held Chelsea to a 0-0 draw at home in a game where the Blues failed to fully get going. It was a result that very few expected against a typically exciting team to watch. While a few chances were created throughout the game, it was a frustrating lunchtime in the end for Tuchel.
The best moments of the game came in the first half with Leeds thinking they had pulled ahead before it was ruled out for offside. A bizarre deflection almost gave Chelsea the lead but a grateful Illan Meslier took the ball back into his grasp and an audacious chip produced an incredible save from Mendy.
The match appeared to decrease in quality as it went on, with the second half tough viewing for most due to the lack of any clear cut opportunities and in the end the Blues had to settle for just a point on the road.
Edouard Mendy’s performance against Leeds United proves he was a bargain
First things first, let’s talk positives. Edouard Mendy kept yet another clean sheet, making it four in a row for the Senegalese man now under Tuchel. Not only this, but since the German manager arrived he has only conceded twice in all competitions. His performances may have slipped under the radar in recent weeks but with little else in terms of quality, the goalkeeper was a key man on the pitch for Chelsea.
He made multiple outstanding saves against Leeds United, one in each half, to ensure the Blues left with the point they deserved. The first involved him scrambling back to recover from a chip which his fingertips tipped onto the crossbar. Not content with just the one slow-motion replay, Mendy unbelievably prevented Leeds stealing the win while on the ground, reaching out to block a close-range shot.
It was perhaps one of the best performances yet in a Chelsea shirt for the new number one – more of the same will be crucial in coming fixtures in the race for the top four.
Four at the back didn’t work against Leeds United
When the lineups were announced an hour before the game, there was a shock to the system. Tuchel had changed from his seemingly favoured back three to a new back four. Whether it was to accommodate more attacking players or simply experimenting with something else is largely irrelevant. Unfortunately, switching to a new system was evidently uncomfortable for the defence, especially against a high-pressing, energetic Leeds United team.
Reverting to the back three from recent weeks brought more stability for the latter stages of the game. It would appear, therefore, that Tuchel has learned his lesson for now and, with a big game on Wednesday night, the much-loved wingbacks seem to be the best option.
Ziyech struggled against Leeds United and is still yet to make a permanent impression
It seems harsh to pinpoint one player for a performance in which many weren’t up to scratch. However, Hakim Ziyech looked off the pace and disinterested – qualities which are becoming all too common in his game. There were brief flashes of potential with searching balls over the top but nothing truly materialised.
He seemed lost in his position, stuck between the wing and the midfield and never looked integrated in the system. This lack of involvement is worrying, considering the longevity of it and since he arrived at the club there has never been a defining moment of quality to announce himself. The wizard seen at Ajax appears to have lost his magic wand and unless he finds it soon, Tuchel will have no choice but to make him disappear, at least temporarily.
The attack has lots of room for improvement
As mentioned, the attacking performance wasn’t entirely on Ziyech’s shoulders, not least because he came off with 20 minutes remaining. A feature of the defensive solidity has been a reduction in attacking presence under Tuchel. However, up to the Leeds United game, there has been a moment of magic from someone to unlock the opposition.
That lock picker never turned up and the repeat showing of flawed finishing is frustrating to watch at times. As Tuchel has said, the team look superb for 80 metres – it’s the last 20 where things start to crumble. Chelsea will need to work on their ability to break into other teams’ territory in training as, although clean sheets are appreciated, the fundamental fact is that goals win you games.
This wasn’t an absolute disaster
While the previous three points may have seemed like incessant negativity, I want to end on a positive. The performance was subpar, admittedly, but a point is still a point at the end of the day. As we’ve seen this season, things can change rapidly so while teams may seem close, a few losses puts them out of reach of us again.
Furthermore, it’s comforting to know that our destiny is in our own hands. For the most part, we don’t need to be concerned with other results as long as we keep gaining points. In a season where the Top Four race is closer than ever, that’s a huge advantage.
The Blues don’t play again in the league until next month, instead taking part in Europe and the FA Cup. Both of those games could be crucial if Tuchel wants to win silverware in his first campaign. As long as we continue keeping clean sheets and the attack improves, I’d suggest there is a very good chance. On to Wednesday!
Written by Noah Robson (@noahr24_)
Edited by Tom Coley (@tomcoley49)