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In terms of goal-scoring, Thomas Tuchel’s first game in charge of Chelsea might not have gone as planned. But his team still put up a magnificent, tactically intriguing performance, and much promise for the future certainly remains. The German manager changed Lampard’s team more than expected, and even implemented a highly intriguing 3-2-5 attacking shape. Given that he had only one day in charge of the Blues before this match, Tuchel certainly managed to get his point across regarding the tactical innovations that he wanted to implement in this match and the players seemed to follow his instructions incredibly well.
Thomas Tuchel’s side set up in what was likely supposed to resemble a 3-4-3 formation. However, they spent 79% of the game on the ball and most of that time in Wolves’ half, so their attacking shape of 3-2-5 took centre stage throughout the match far more than anything else.
Chelsea’s central midfielders were the key men in build-up phases. Rudiger’s inclusion in the line-up was a bit of an interesting one, as his main role was just to recycle possession to Kovacic, given how much time the Blues spent on the ball and how little defending he had to contribute.
When Chelsea were out of possession, they looked to press and win the ball back as quickly as possible. This happened very rarely in the match simply because they had 79% of the ball, but the pressing mentality was very evident. Kovacic and Jorginho were always key to this. When they were pressing from the very front, one of the two would link up in a four-man diamond with the three central attackers to press the ball.
Chelsea attacked with much in the way of width against Wolves, which was a positive in creating chances. But it was also partially a factor out of Wolves’ defensive 5-2-3 shape, which restricted Chelsea’s ability to engage their central attackers centrally. Chelsea saw two issues attacking vertically, particularly in the first half. The first of which, was Havertz and Ziyech having no room to receive in between the lines due to there simply being no space to receive in between the lines. They would have to receive in front of Neves and Dendoncker instead, leaving Giroud isolated up against five players, four of whom are very capable in the air.
The other issue occurred when Giroud would drop in deep to pick up possession instead, leaving Ziyech and Havertz as the higher options in between the lines up against three defenders and two central midfielders, who were shuffling well to screen passes into their feet. If Chelsea were able to find Havertz or Ziyech in space, the attacking midfielders then found themselves surrounded by three centre-backs in close proximity to one another, requiring them to shift the ball wide instead.