Thomas Tuchel is nine games (seven in the Premier League) into his tenure as Chelsea manager, and it would appear he is achieving a clearer idea of who fits into his plans and who might not — most notably his young attackers like Christian Pulisic, Tammy Abraham or Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Sunday saw the Blues draw Manchester United 0-0 at Stamford Bridge — it was a game that Tuchel called “high-quality” despite a differing opinion from most onlookers — and again his team selection raised a few eyebrows.
Pulisic started on the bench once again (he is yet to make a Premier League start under Tuchel) and Callum Hudson-Odoi was once again picked to play right wing in Tuchel’s 3-5-2, but perhaps most notably was the complete omission of Tammy Abraham from the 18-man squad. Asked about it after the game, Tuchel was shockingly honest with his explanation — quotes from Football.London and the BBC:
“It is my difficult decision that I have to take. This is what you sign up for if you are playing for Chelsea.
“No, he is not struggling. We have a strong squad with only Thiago Silva injured. We had [Olivier Giroud] starting, we had Kai [Havertz] also on the bench who can play number 9. Things might be difficult for him at this stage, as they should be, but he has our support.”
“It was a high-quality game between two very strong teams. We suffered in the first half but overall it was an even game. In the second half I thought we were really strong.
“I thought we were closer to winning it, but there was a lot of quality on the pitch. Performance-wise, I’m satisfied. We defended very well in the last line and I’m very happy with that.
“We were not good enough in the first half to attack the spaces. To find the solution was not always easy and we lost a bit of confidence with some easy ball losses.
“We said at halftime not to worry. We changed to a 5-3-2 to have higher ball recoveries and to regain confidence, and the boys did that very well. We were very close to winning.
“We take what we got. I’m absolutely happy. Against a team like Man United you don’t get many chances.”
As for Hudson-Odoi, who came off at halftime and was replaced by right back Reece James, Tuchel said the 20-year-old Chelsea winger was “a little bit injured.”