Callum Hudson-Odoi the star as Chelsea squad relish Thomas Tuchel’s blank slate

Hudson-Odoi has started both games under Tuchel

If coaching – beyond winning games – is about making an impact on individual players, and improving them, there have been ample examples from the German’s convincing second game. It’s just a pity for Frank Lampard a few of them had issues under him, meaning there’s a bit of narrative to their performances too.

Hudson-Odoi – whose stats brought a bit of argument from the former Chelsea manager just a few weeks ago – was not even the most prominent example, even as he was man of the match.

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Marcos Alonso enjoyed a triumphant transformation of fortune, scoring a supreme first goal of the season after a first match since September, and that notorious 3-3 draw at West Brom. Tuchel’s explanation for his abrupt inclusion also indicated how everyone is starting from a blank slate. He also illustrated how it was no inherent criticism of Ben Chilwell. It was genuinely tactical.

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“We had a reason, not that we were unhappy with Chilly, absolutely not, but we opted for a bit more size, to cope with the corners from Burnley.

“I know Marcos is used to playing this role, on the left side all alone and he has a good timing for arriving in the box.

“In the end we are very happy he could score the second goal to finish the game.”

The goal sealed the 2-0 win over Burnley, but it was probably Hudson-Odoi that drove it, causing them problems throughout and setting up the first for Cesar Azpilicueta with that fine reverse ball.

The forward is notionally a wing-back in this system, but Tuchel’s Chelsea play with such impetus that it really doesn’t feel like it. If anything, starting in that position just gives him the extra space to surge into and make better use of his pace.

“He can have his input on the line, he has the ability to be decisive with his runs, his speed and at the moment we have opted for this structure,” Tuchel said.

“He had another good game, if we can improve the precision of our guys in the box then maybe we can score more goals.”

Marcos Alonso has returned to the fold

Precision, of course, immediately brings Timo Werner to mind. He wasn’t yet accurate enough in his finishing to score that goal he so needs, but there was a greater sharpness about his play. He often combined with Hudson-Odoi, Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount superbly.

“He is totally into it, he gives everything,” Tuchel said of his compatriot. “You can see, like every striker in the world, they guys are sensitive and nothing helps better than goals. If they miss the goals for a certain time then it isn’t the same for them, it is not special to Timo, it happens with every striker in the world.

“As long as he has the impact, works like he worded today, we will support him. We missed some chances to use him in counter attacks which is his big strength, he has pure speed. We need to improve to bring him into situations to be decisive for us.

“He was confident to play but that is something you cannot demand, you either have it or you don’t. But it is no problem, maybe he just needs to find an easy goal to bring out the last percent.”

One of the most remarkable elements of this win was that Chelsea produced it despite Tuchel naming a completely different team to Wednesday. He promised more surprises to come – and a lot of tactical variety – and it’s possible that’s the best use of Chelsea’s excellent array of talent.

It’s not really a case of Tuchel not knowing his best team. He has never really operated that way. He instead has a best system, something which did seem to elude Lampard.

“Well if we manage to find a starting eleven that can guarantee us to win 20 in a row we will not change it,” Tuchel laughed after the game. “But it’s of course very unlikely this will happen.

“We decided very late for the back three and two sixes, because of the impact we expected from Burnley, and they did very, very well. And we made changes offensively just to have different characteristics and give everyone a chance to show up in competition.

“It’s super-hard in selection, or maybe also super-easy because I’m giving everyone the chance to show their abilities.”

Burnley certainly felt the impact of some.

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