When a new manager takes over at a club, it’s expected that they’ll take a little while to bed in and really get to grips with the squad at their disposal.
So it probably shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Thomas Tuchel still doesn’t really look to have nailed down his preferred Chelsea starting XI – y’know, considering the embarrassment of riches available to him following Frank Lampard’s £875m spending spree last summer.
The German tactician has experimented with a whole host of different systems and personnel in his seven games at the helm, though, to be fair to him, a record of five wins and two draws does little to suggest his side have suffered as a result of his tinkering.
That being said, Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Southampton was the first real indication that his side are desperate for some semblance of familiarity.
Having looked bright in the Blues’ last couple of outings, Mateo Kovacic struggled to get a grip on the game having seen his partnership with Jorginho broken up, while Mason Mount struggled to impact the game having been moved out to the Chelsea right.
Tammy Abraham was afforded just his third league start under the former Paris Saint-Germain boss, only to be withdrawn at half-time, while Callum Hudson-Odoi’s appearance from the bench lasted all of 30 minutes before he was hooked, with Tuchel claiming he wasn’t happy with the youngster’s work rate.
The visitors’ first-half display was disjointed and cumbersome, and though they managed to earn a point having come from a goal behind thanks to Mount’s second-half penalty, it should undoubtedly be looked upon as two points lost against a team who’d suffered six consecutive Premier League defeats.
The constant changes did little to aid Chelsea’s attempts to build any momentum, and ultimately they were forced to rely on Mount’s industry and guile in winning the penalty to rescue a point against the worst side in the league on recent form.
While Tuchel can be pleased with his start to life as Chelsea boss, he’s been afforded a favourable opening to his Stamford Bridge tenure when you consider the quality of opposition he’s faced.
The next few weeks see his side come up against Manchester United and Liverpool, as well as facing Atletico Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Chelsea might have the individuals to see them through against teams like Sheffield United, Newcastle and Burnley (no offence), but their upcoming fixtures are a whole different proposition.
If they’re to continue their quest for Champions League football next season as well as embarking on the latter rounds of this season’s competition, they’re going to need team performances – not individual performances – and a settled starting XI which gives players time to build partnerships could be key to their campaign.