Tuchel stands by Havertz big decision as Chelsea lack bite
Thomas Tuchel had Olivier Giroud available but decided Kai Havertz should lead Chelsea's attack at Leeds, despite his barren scoring form.
Thomas Tuchel defended picking goal-shy Kai Havertz to lead his attack after Chelsea were held at Leeds United. The 0-0 draw at Elland Road could prove costly in fourth-placed Chelsea's attempt to qualify for next season's Champions League, with West Ham, Everton and Tottenham in pursuit.
Havertz, one goal in 20 games for Chelsea
Havertz was a free-scoring player from an attacking midfield berth with Bayer Leverkusen, which drew Chelsea's attention and led to him arriving at Stamford Bridge last September. But he has not carried that form over into the Premier League and came into the clash with Leeds having scored just once in 20 games in the competition. After failing to score again, his shot conversion rate this season dipped to 5.56%. Tuchel, however, decided that Chelsea were well equipped to find a breakthrough against Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds with Germany international Havertz spearheading their attack.
Asked about Havertz playing a 'false nine' role, Tuchel disputed that description and said: "I think he's pretty much a nine. I don't think he's a false number nine. He is a nine because he likes to be in the high positions, for him it's not always necessary to drop to number 10 in turn. For me, his biggest strength is he loves to be in the high position and he loves to arrive in the box, in the six-yard box even, he loves to be there and likes to have the last touch."
Havertz had four goal attempts, the most he has had in a Premier League game, but the 21-year-old could not apply a clinical finishing touch to his chances. "Sometimes it's like this," Tuchel told BT Sport. "As long as we have chances, as long as we have a lot of touches in the box and don't concede too many chances, the results will be there. There were enough chances. I don't want to be too harsh."
3 - Chelsea have had more goalless draws in 10 Premier League games under Thomas Tuchel (3) than they did in 57 under Frank Lampard (2). pic.twitter.com/kElnYZVrB4— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 13, 2021
Giroud rested ahead of Atleti return leg
Leeds had only 38.1% of possession, the lowest they have recorded in any of their 120 league games under Bielsa's leadership. Chelsea bossed the ball but lacked the required cutting edge. Olivier Giroud, the second highest scorer in the history of the French national team, sat on the bench throughout, with Tuchel perhaps saving the target man for the midweek Champions League home clash with Atlético Madrid. Timo Werner only came on after the midway point in the second half.
"It happens sometimes that it's hard to score, that you miss some big chances, and you go out with a zero-zero," Tuchel added.
On the plus side, Tuchel is now unbeaten in 12 games since taking over from Frank Lampard, the joint-longest unbeaten start by a manager in the club’s history, matching Luiz Felipe Scolari's tally. Scolari did not last long at Chelsea, but Tuchel will hope to, and he believes the reaction from his players pointed to their ambition to succeed. "The boys are disappointed in the dressing room which is a good sign," the German coach said. "We draw away, we played a good game, but everybody's disappointed which is good."
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