A goalless draw at home is not a result that will prompt wild celebrations, even if it comes with the added bonus of annoying Manchester United to no end, which is always a good thing in my book.
Another actual good thing is a clean sheet however, which have become a most welcome habit at Chelsea over the past month. Since Thomas Tuchel arrived and instituted his 3-4-3 system, Chelsea have conceded just 2 goals in 9 games, one of which was actually an unforced own goal. (Chelsea have 12 clean sheets in 26 league games this season, but 5 in the last 7.)
Whether anchored by Thiago Silva or Andreas Christensen, the defensive setup of the team has been nigh on impeccable. And that certainly makes the latter happy, who started his fifth match in place of the injured Silva last night (pitching four clean sheets with just the aforementioned own goal conceded).
“It was a good point but at the same time we’re frustrated to walk away without a win, especially after the second half. We’re glad to have a clean sheet and a good point but we wanted to win.”
”For me personally, I’m playing games back-to-back and I haven’t had that for a while so it’s great for me.”
What makes him — and everyone else — less happy is that Manchester United were also able to keep a clean sheet.
“We started well in the first half and then after probably 15 minutes they took over and had most of the play. We know they have qualities so we had to be careful how many players we put forward. We didn’t want to risk having to chase the rest of the game so it’s a difficult balance. They weren’t dangerous but they took over so we tried to change something at half-time and it worked well.
“We got dangerous a couple of times and they had a great save but we probably deserved a goal. We felt quite good and comfortable. We had the chances but didn’t do enough to be dangerous even though it was a tough game.”
If points were handed out on merit, Chelsea probably would’ve “deserved” the win based just on the second-half effort that included two-thirds of possession and almost twice as many shots (13-7) as United. But even in modern football, points are still handed out based on goals, and Chelsea did not threaten nearly enough, and certainly not consistently enough, to find the breakthrough this time.
Although there were a few good individual performances yesterday, including from Christensen himself, Tuchel’s Chelsea are still very much a work-in-progress. After all, he’s only been in charge for a month, and with barely any time on the training ground. Given those circumstances, Chelsea’s improvement in the defensive aspect, Tuchel’s highest stated priority, is commendable.
“We’re still learning but every day it’s getting better and we get new ideas on board. We’re enjoying it and we’re in good form so it’s about going into every game trying not to let that form drop and to keep winning.”
“We have to chase the top four together and we have to win these games to do that. Now we have three more difficult games in a row but nothing changes for us – we go into every game trying to win.”
-Andreas Christensen; source: Chelsea FC
The balance we need from here will hopefully come soon as well. (Hopefully by Thursday, even, when we take on Liverpool at Anfield!)