Thomas Tuchel gets off the mark as Chelsea see off Burnley
César Azpilicueta netted the opener as home side looked impressive in victory
Cesár Azpilicueta of Chelsea scores the first goal during the Premier League win over Burnley. Photo: Justin Tallis/EPA
Chelsea 2 Burnley 0
Now this was more like it. Although it was slow going at first, Chelsea were well into their stride by the end. The football was crisp, urgent and inventive once César Azpilicueta had scored the first goal of the Thomas Tuchel era. There was a clear idea in attack and far more discipline without the ball, ensuring that Burnley never seriously threatened an equaliser during the second half.
After the choked introduction against Wolves, this felt like the true start of Tuchel’s reign. The tactical coherence missing under Frank Lampard returned. Marcos Alonso, a player banished under Lampard, returned to underline the change by scoring the clinching goal. Callum Hudson-Odoi was outstanding again, combining slickly with Mason Mount to ensure that Tuchel’s second game in charge ended in a deserved win over Burnley, lifting Chelsea up three places to seventh.
The rush to judge Tuchel after his first game, the drab stalemate with Wolves, felt ridiculous. This is a manager who needs time on the training ground to make his ideas work; a scientific coach with an idealistic zeal who has been parachuted in mid-season and asked to rebuild a broken team. The German is battling against a cramped schedule, offering him little time to prepare. Perhaps he can be forgiven the heresy of omitting Mount against Wolves, even if he has offended certain people by replacing Lampard, a legend in these parts despite the removal of the “In Frank We Trust” banner from the Shed End for this match.
Even Tuchel has seemed slightly swept away by the pace of change. With the games coming thick and fast, the impression remains of a manager still working out how best to utilise his squad. Once again Tuchel made personnel changes as he searched for the perfect blend in his 3-4-3 system, completely overhauling his front three after blunt displays from Hakim Ziyech, Olivier Giroud and Kai Havertz against Wolves. Tammy Abraham came in as the central striker, Mount returned in a free role on the right and Timo Werner, an unused substitute in midweek, began as an inside-left forward, a role that brought the best out of him at RB Leipzig last season.
The intention was to move Werner away from the wing and closer to goal, working in tandem with Alonso, who was hauled out of cold storage and handed a first start since being hauled off when Chelsea were 3-0 down at half-time to West Brom in September. The latter’s inclusion was evidence of Tuchel’s propensity to surprise, not to mention his desire to give opportunities to individuals who were frozen out under the previous regime.
While Lampard was unimpressed with Alonso for returning to the team bus without permission after being withdrawn against West Brom, Tuchel was ready to use a player who divides opinions within the fanbase. It is not about winning popularity contests. There was a logic to picking Alonso, who is more comfortable at left wing-back than Ben Chilwell. The Spaniard attacks well and created an early chance when he headed a Hudson-Odoi delivery across goal, only for Abraham and Mount to collide at the far post.
As Abraham and Mount both lay on the turf, which was perhaps down to embarrassment rather than injury, it seemed a perfect image of Chelsea’s stifled attacking during the first half. Even Tuchel spent a lot of time slapping his thighs in annoyance when moves broke down during the opening period. Chelsea bossed possession but lacked an edge during the early stages, making it easy for Burnley to maintain their organisation. Chances were sparse. Werner, who was trying hard, twice tested Nick Pope with low drives from the edge of the area, while there were a couple of threatening moments from Hudson-Odoi and Mount.
It needed quicker transitions to prise Burnley apart. Tuchel kept calling for more urgency and his instructions were finally heeded when Chelsea broke through. The move began with Jorginho threading a pass to Mount, who received possession on halfway before turning and darting into space. Mount ignored Tuchel’s call to push the ball to the left, instead looking to the opposite flank for Hudson-Odoi, who played a cleverly disguised pass for Azpilicueta, arriving like Trent Alexander-Arnold and finishing like Cristiano Ronaldo, slamming a high shot past Pope.
Azpiliceuta’s surge from right centre-back was a sign of the fluidity Tuchel craves. The captain’s goal lifted the tension and Chelsea hammered Burnley in the second half. Hudson-Odoi was always a threat, smacking a post with a deflected effort and fizzing a dangerous low ball across the face of goal. Pulisic, on for Abraham at the break, was denied.
There were seven minutes left when Chelsea killed the game, Pulisic darting down the left and chipping the ball into the middle for Alonso, who controlled with his thigh and then his knee before volleying past Pope with his left foot. Time moves on. – Guardian