Thomas Tuchel oversaw his first Chelsea win on Sunday, a 2-0 win over Burnley giving him four points from six to start life at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea controlled Burnley from Moment No. 1, allowing zeroes shots on target and just one attempt: a stoppage-time header of a corner kick with the result already sealed barring an improbable bit of madness.
The Blues led 1-0 at the break with a 10-0 shot advantage but were unconvincing despite living in Burnley’s final third. Tuchel made one sub at the break, putting in Christian Pulisic for Tammy Abraham, and the Clarets were plenty worried over the final 45 minutes.
The familiarity of Pulisic may have helped the winger, as Abraham is one of many Chelsea players learning what Tuchel wants in attack.
“It is the quality of the players, the structure that we gave them with the confidence to keep the ball,” he said, via Football.London. “Recover it when we don’t have it. We need intensive runs, possession means nothing but if we have the quality and structure to control the game, why not use it.”
Looking at Abraham’s heat map versus that of Pulisic’s certainly illustrates what changed in movement from Timo Werner’s counterparts in the first and second halves.
Tuchel has stated that he’s using Pulisic off the bench in an “unfair” move that stems from familiarity with the American. While Tuchel knows Pulisic can start and sub in, he does not know if others can bring the same instant impact.
That will soon change, probably Thursday versus Spurs, but Sunday saw Timo Werner and Tammy Abraham up top with Mason Mount underneath to start and Callum Hudson-Odoi and Marcos Alonso serving as rampaging wing backs.
He had special praise for Werner and Hudson-Odoi, saying the struggling forward “is totally into it, he gives everything” and that the English winger is ideal for the wingback role in his 3-4-1-2. Tuchel says Hudson-Odoi, “has the ability to be decisive with his runs, his speed, at the moment we have opted for this kind of structure.”
Tuchel explained that Hakim Ziyech was rested as a precaution. The Moroccan was on a workload restriction of 30 minutes after playing five times in 13 days, so Tuchel left him out of the 18.
In an amusing side note, Tuchel was clearly caught off guard by one thing: Burnley manager Sean Dyche’s nearly unparalleled “Get it out of there” defense.
“The performance itself, for me, was a very complete performance,” Tuchel said. “We had to be strong defensively against an unbelievable amount of long balls.”
Burnley had 21 clearances, just under its season average, and 18 of them came from the back four.