Chelsea and Thomas Tuchel seemingly threw caution to the (gusty) winds of Elland Road (not to mention the variable weather and the non-Premier League-standard pitch), ditching the three-man backline and deciding to play Leeds’ madcap game with what looked mostly like a 4-2-3-1. Christian Pulisic was definitely not a wing-back, and not even in the token Marcos Alonso-sense.
Pulisic’s forays forward did create Chelsea’s best chances of a mostly wide-open first half, but the Blues were unable to take advantage. Chelsea also hit the crossbar on a ricochet from a Leeds defensive clearance.
At the other end, Chelsea’s previously solid and staunch defense looked more like Swiss cheese, with Leeds scoring once (rightly ruled out for offside) and hitting the crossbar once as well (by way of Mendy’s fingertips and acrobatics).
Chelsea did seem to assert a bit more control as the half wore on, especially after Patrick Bamford suffered an unfortunate hip stinger, but a Havertz shot in added-on time was the clearest chance we were able to create, with Meslier making his third save of the half.
The second half began in just as open of a fashion as the first, with Havertz wasting a fantastic chance at one end and Mendy making another tremendous save, from Raphinha, at the other.
Chelsea continued to press for an opening goal, bringing on Werner and James and switching to a more familiar 3-4-3 for the last 25 minutes or so. Hudson-Odoi would be added a quarter of an hour later, but it was still to no avail. Chelsea looked the more likely to score throughout, though Mendy had to be alert as well, including a somewhat fortunate grab on a corner when Rodrigo was left a bit too free.
Scoreless, in the end.
- Tuchel shuffles his deck once again, coming up with a back-four behind a pivot of Kanté and Jorginho, and the trio of Mount-Ziyech-Pulisic supporting Havertz as the center forward.
- More familiar 3-4-3 for the last 25 minutes or so, with Werner, James, and Hudson-Odoi as the three substitutes used.
- Tuchel remains unbeaten as Chelsea head coach, but two points dropped here.
- Chelsea remain in fourth, three points ahead of West Ham, who now have two matches in hand. Two points behind Leicester, who play tomorrow.
- Next up: the second leg against Atlético, at the Bridge on Wednesday