Marcelo Bielsa and Thomas Tuchel shared the spoils as their Leeds United and Chelsea sides delivered an entertaining 0-0 spectacle on Saturday.
Neither side could find a way through at Elland Road, where fourth-placed Chelsea had been hoping to land their first league double over Leeds since the 1988-89 campaign, when both were in the second tier.
There was almost a farcical own goal as two Leeds defenders combined, while Kai Havertz failed to capitalise on a string of chances.
Leeds boss Bielsa also substituted a substitute, with Rodrigo the unlucky man, and Patrick Bamford came off injured in his 100th match for the West Yorkshire side, but despite abundant endeavour, the game finished goalless.
Leeds had the ball in the back of the net in the seventh minute when Bamford squared for Tyler Roberts, but the former had strayed offside before playing the decisive pass.
Chelsea were nearly gifted a freak breakthrough in the 10th minute when Luke Ayling booted an intended clearance against Leeds team-mate Diego Llorente and the ball bounced back towards goal, hitting the crossbar and bouncing back into the arms of goalkeeper Illan Meslier.
1 – Leeds attempted just one shot in the first half against Chelsea, their joint-lowest tally in the opening 45 minutes of a league match under Marcelo Bielsa (also 1 vs Brighton in January). Shy. pic.twitter.com/3qdyZMyAAL
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 13, 2021
A stunning 20-yard effort from Roberts almost found the far top-right corner, striking the bar after the slightest of touches from Edouard Mendy.
Ben Chilwell went close with a low drive from 20 yards, before Leeds suffered a big blow when Bamford had to be substituted with a leg injury, seemingly one he picked up when jumping for the ball with Antonio Rudiger. Leeds’ 13-goal top scorer would have hoped for a happier ending in a landmark outing, particularly given he was facing one of his former teams.
Havertz was denied by a decent save from Meslier early in the second half after driving into the Leeds penalty area, with the German then unable to get a firm touch to a delicious cross from Hakim Ziyech.
Mendy denied Raphinha at the other end, while Rudiger strolled out of defence and drew a save from Meslier with an ambitious 30-yard attempt.
Rodrigo, who replaced Bamford in the first half, headed straight at Mendy from a corner as Leeds chased a late winner, before being hooked by the demanding Bielsa moments later.
What does it mean? Missed opportunity for Chelsea
Mid-table Leeds will surely be the happier side, given the calibre of the visitors. Tuchel’s Chelsea are now unbeaten in 12 games under their new boss and their aim is on securing a Champions League spot for next season. They remain firmly in the hunt, but dropping any points at this stage of the season can be costly.
A Havertz goal is coming
The Germany international was heavily involved at the business end of the pitch, effectively operating as a striker, and with a little more luck and precision he could have been the Chelsea hero. Havertz still has just one Premier League goal, which given that he was such a free-scoring midfield force in the Bundesliga is a baffling fact, but he had four efforts in this game which is more than he has had in any other outing in the competition this season.
Ultimately, neither team could find the required level of finishing, and BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand said afterwards: “I would say both teams huffed and puffed without any real quality in the final third. I think that was the defining factor. Definitely two points dropped by Chelsea; a good point for Leeds.”
Did Tuchel get it right?
With his tactical shift, Tuchel employed an attacking midfielder who has struggled for goals in the role where he is looking for a finisher. Olivier Giroud sat on the bench throughout, but the Frenchman could have made a difference.
Chelsea had 15 goal attempts and eight were on target, but Leeds’ goalkeeper did not have to deliver a standout display to secure a clean sheet.
39 – Since Thomas Tuchel’s first game in charge of Chelsea against Wolves in January, no team has made more changes to their starting lineup than the Blues. Tinker. pic.twitter.com/wyTjtMgkeK
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 13, 2021
Key Opta facts
– Chelsea have won just 14 per cent of their 50 away games against Leeds in all competitions (W7 D15 L28), their lowest win rate against any side they have faced at least 15 times on the road.
– Tuchel is unbeaten in all 12 of his games in charge of Chelsea in all competitions, the joint-longest unbeaten start by a manager in the club’s history (Felipe Scolari also 12).
– Leeds’ total possession figure of 38.1 per cent is their lowest recorded in any of their 120 league games under Bielsa.
– Chelsea have drawn three of their 10 Premier League games under Tuchel 0-0, more than they did in 57 under previous boss Frank Lampard (2).
– This was Leeds’ first draw in 19 Premier League games (W8 L10), since a 0-0 result against Arsenal at Elland Road in November.
Leeds head to Craven Cottage to face Fulham in the Premier League on Friday. Chelsea’s next assignment is the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Atletico Madrid, at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.