Chelsea’s defeat to Man City saw Tuchel’s selection backfire after he explained why he chose Timo Werner over Kai Havertz or Hakim Ziyech against the Premier League champions
The manager’s hand had been partly forced, of course, with injuries to Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic robbing him of two potential 10s.
In the BT Sport studio before the game, Rio Ferdinand gave a further insight into why he felt Werner had been selected, with the forward’s pace having caused City problems in the Champions League final.
“He divides opinion but what he does give you is intensity, on the ball, off the ball, winning the ball back,” said Ferdinand.
“He will stretch this Man City team. They’ll be looking for a repeat performance today and maybe a goal.”
It made sense that, with Chelsea set up to defend, Werner’s pace could prove dangerous in exploiting any space City left at the back.
But it didn’t pan out that way, with Tuchel’s side failing to have a shot target, as Ruben Dias and Joao Cancelo both got the better of Werner on different occasions while Romelu Lukaku was also kept relatively quiet.
Despite Tuchel having started all three of N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic, Chelsea were unable to win the midfield battle and were crying out for more creativity and urgency from that area.
When Havertz came on for a struggling Kante on the hour mark, the effect was almost instantaneous, and within a few minutes he had set up Lukaku to roll the ball into the net.
The German midfielder had strayed offside before squaring it for his team-mate, but it showed the damage Havertz might have been able to do had Tuchel gone with him from the start.
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Ziyech didn’t make it onto the pitch, as Tuchel opted against the 3-4-2-1 formation that had taken Chelsea to the top of the Premier League prior to Saturday’s defeat.
The gaffer himself admitted afterwards he had got some of his selection wrong, highlighting his decision to start Kante despite the midfielder having been ill.
And just as Guardiola carried the can for City’s Champions League defeat after tinkering too much with his best team, Tuchel may feel he should have stuck with the formula that had brought success so far this season.
The manager has done little wrong so far in his incredible transformation of Chelsea from a team punching below their weight to champions of Europe.
But having got the better of his City counterpart in their previous three meetings, Tuchel must now go back to the drawing board as he figures how best to topple the title-holders over the coming months.
Werner, meanwhile, failed to make an impact in a game for which he was specifically selected for tactical reasons, ahead of either Havertz or Ziyech.
And that means he will continue to face questions over where he fits into this Chelsea team.