4. Fragmented attack and counter attack
There were a few instances in the match when a Chelsea attacker made a run in behind, received the ball and was stranded in the box with no support, with Havertz and Ziyech having the most noticeable chances.
Whilst employing a 3-4-3/3-4-2-1, a team has the luxury of directly attacking the box with 5 players. But for those attacks to be successful, each player has to make a specific type of run. With the formation in place, most attacks originate from the flanks.
Usually, the buildup begins with an inside forward (Mount, Ziyech) either driving at the box or making a pass. The player has three choices with his pass, either release the supporting wingback (Chilwell, James) en route to a cross, cross himself or switch the play to the other side.
When the ball eventually finds its way into the box, the other three players make unique runs; the striker (Havertz) attacks the near post, the wingback attacks the far post and the other inside forward occupies the space in the center for a rebound or cutback. Only when all three attack in-sync is the probability of a goal increases, as the predictability of the cross and consequential shot decreases.
In the game against Leeds, Chelsea attacked the box fragmentedly as individuals as opposed to a team. It was therefore easier to close down each attacker and limit Chelsea to stray shots outside the box.
Similarly, Chelsea must re-learn the art of counter-attacking to add another layer to its offence. While Tuchel’s pragmatic control philosophy has plenty of merits, it lacks the killer intent to truly be ever-effective. Against a team that throws body forwards like Leeds, a simple interception to through ball can lead to a goal.
But those moves will not come to fruition unless Jorginho actively looks for that pass and Mount and Ziyech urgently make those runs in. The operation requires the entire team to commit consistently rather than individuals trying to make things happen out of nothing.
Patience and urgency are two sides of the same coin, with Tuchel yet to harness the latter. The German manager could look at the Leeds United game as a learning opportunity, as he learnt everything he should not be doing. Such opportunities are not afforded to those in the chaotic Chelsea hot seat too often, especially when he’s working as a glorified interim manager with his 18-month contract.
Tuchel may still be unbeaten, just like Scolari and Mourinho once were, but whose history he replicates will depend heavily on the German’s ability to look past the current positives and correct the future negatives.