Thomas Tuchel's tenure as Chelsea head coach got off to an underwhelming start on Wednesday as the Blues failed to make the most of almost complete domination in a 0-0 draw with Wolves. (More Football News)
Tuchel had only taken charge of one training session ahead the game following his appointment as Frank Lampard's successor on Tuesday, and although Chelsea saw far more of the ball, they lacked cutting edge and slumped to a disappointing draw.
Frustratingly for the hosts, their two best chances fell to full-back Ben Chilwell in either half, and otherwise there were few instances of Chelsea carving open the Wolves defence.
Nuno Espirito Santo's men went on to go closest to a winner when Pedro Neto hit the crossbar in the latter stages, leaving the Blues perhaps fortunate to hold on to a point.
Chelsea showed good intent at the start and should have had a fifth-minute lead when Callum Hudson-Odoi beat Rayan Ait-Nouri and delivered a teasing cross, but Olivier Giroud failed to get a touch on the ball.
That was not the start of a Chelsea onslaught, though, as they had to wait another 26 minutes for their next notable opportunity – Chilwell volleying off target from another good Hudson-Odoi centre.
Rui Patricio was eventually tested just before the half-time, the Wolves goalkeeper keeping Antonio Rudiger's header out of the bottom-right corner as Chelsea struggled to make the breakthrough despite completing more first-half passes (433) than in any other Premier League game since 2003-04.
433 - Chelsea have made 433 successful passes against Wolves so far; their most in the first half of a Premier League game since the start of the 2003-04 season (when we have this data available). Construction. #CHEWOL pic.twitter.com/ZSFDoYMOwd— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 27, 2021
The hosts' sharpest move led to their best chance just past the hour but again Chilwell could not capitalise, the left-back blasting over after Mateo Kovacic fed Kai Havertz and the German cut the ball back into the danger zone.
Neto was then presented with a wonderful chance to steal an unlikely win 19 minutes from time when he was played through after linking up with Daniel Podence, but his scooped effort over Edouard Mendy was kept out by the bar.
Chelsea piled the pressure on towards the end, twice going close from distance before Kai Havertz's seemingly goal-bound header was blocked by Willian Jose in the last act of the game, as a winning start ultimately eluded Tuchel.
What does it mean? – Chelsea pass, pass, pass but cannot pass Wolves test
Tuchel certainly showed he is willing to come in and put his stamp on Chelsea immediately, as Lampard-favourite Mason Mount was among those to drop out of the starting XI, and the Blues adopted a possession-focused style of play in a changed 3-4-3 formation.
But one has to wonder whether he tried to change too much, too soon. Remember, he had only had one training session with the squad, yet the outlook of the XI and system were vastly different.
In the end, it probably should not be much of a surprise that they failed to break Wolves down. One thing is for certain – Chelsea can look forward to some intense work on the training pitch over the coming weeks.
Boly bolts the door
While Chelsea were certainly disappointing in some aspects of their play, credit is due to Wolves for their defensive work. Willy Boly was arguably the pick of the bunch – the centre-back made a match-high eight clearances, one of which was a crucial one late on to deal with a dangerous Mount pass.
Havertz shows flashes but still has to do more
The struggles of Havertz this season are developing into a long-running saga. Here he was not much more impressive than he generally been for Chelsea, though there was the occasional flash, such as his impressive lung-busting run through the middle in the first half.
Still, his 78 touches was the fewest of Chelsea's outfield starters who were not substituted, and he played just one key pass.
Key Opta Stats:
- Tuchel is the first Chelsea manager since Rafael Benítez in November 2012 to draw his first game in charge of the club, which was also a 0-0 at Stamford Bridge (v Manchester City).
- Chelsea had 78.9 per cent possession and completed 820 passes – since the start of 2003-04, these are both the highest totals by a team in their manager's first Premier League game in charge.
- Wolves are now winless in their past seven games in the Premier League, equalling their longest run of games without a victory in the competition under Nuno (between May and September 2019).
- Tuchel has seen his team keep a clean sheet in four consecutive league games (three for PSG and this one), going 415 minutes of play since last conceding (versus Lyon on December 13).
- Thiago Silva has made 25 home league appearances under Tuchel (between PSG and Chelsea), and is still yet to finish on the losing side (W22 D3).
Chelsea are at home again on Sunday as they host Burnley, while Wolves are back in London the day before as they go to Crystal Palace.