Chelsea: Passes, possession and a pedestrian performance at SOU

Thomas Tuchel is leading Chelsea, but the question now becomes “where?” His team selections have befuddled and baffled since he took over from Frank Lampard. Against Southampton on Saturday morning, Chelsea dominated possession, yet left with a scant and lucky point to show for all that business.

It seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same. It was the same with Lampard (again, bringing up the question as to why the legend was sacked)—possession without results—and all it ultimately ends up with is lost points.

Since arriving three weeks ago, Tuchel has done a lot. He has changed the formation, inserted bench players into the starting line-up, managed to dominate possession and has generally done well. That was until Saturday, when the Blues allowed a completely inferior Saints side to glean a point from them when they should have obliterated that side at St Mary’s.

The Chelsea side continues to be its own worst enemy. The effort in the final third remain pathetic and chances go a-begging as poor passing, lackadaisical instinctive play and an overall absence of clinical finishing continue to plague this highly-priced, but underperforming, side.

While Tuchel has had an unbeaten start to his Chelsea career to date, he has failed to unlock the abilities of this side. The Blues have failed to score goals in bunches, which is what top four and title-contending teams do. He is using players in the squad who don’t have either the quality or mindset to score or set-up goals. Chelsea’s midfield is bereft of anyone who can score a goal or even provide an assist. It would be a miracle if that happened, absent a Jorginho goal on a penalty. This places the entire scoring burden on the forwards and they have not been up to the task either. The Blues’ reliance on the midfield and wingbacks that are almost incapable of scoring is a major deficiency in the side that will ultimately prove to be the reason it fails to achieve its goals.

Tuchel may have patched up a porous defense, but his ability to unlock the talent he has at forward is nowhere to be seen. Perhaps his most innovative and creative player, Hakim Ziyech, has been consigned to the bench. Aside from some last minute cameos, he’s a forgotten man. In addition, Tuchel brainlessly substituted Callum Hudson-Odoi—who had only just come on—off against Southampton. That left Chelsea supporters scratching their heads in disbelief. Further, bringing on Jorginho, one of the most offensively challenged members of the Blues, late in the game was sheer folly. This was a game to try to win, not to secure a measly point.

Here we are, right where we were from the start: dominating possession, not creating good chances, missing key passes and not shooting often enough. This Chelsea side is lacking. It’s hard to put my finger on just what it is, but the lack is there—something’s just not clicking. The talent is there but the mix isn’t, it’s a conundrum. I wish I could provide the answer, but it’s not easy and it’s not seemingly achievable even by the very best of managers.

One thing is certain though, if this mess isn’t sorted out soon by Tuchel, Chelsea will be on the outside looking up at the top four after facing the best in the Premier League. It’s time to sort all this out, quickly.