Chelsea offer vision of future under Thomas Tuchel with impressive victory over Burnley

Chelsea 2-0 Burnley: Azpilicueta and Alonso netted the first goals of the Tuchel era to seal the win

Miguel Delaney
Stamford Bridge
Sunday 31 January 2021 14:12
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This, both Thomas Tuchel and the Chelsea hierarchy might say, was much more like it. Star performers like Callum Hudson-Odoi and Marcos Alonso might say even before, having been given a proper chance again. It meant there was a real narrative force to this performance from Chelsea, as well as a show of force through a 2-0 win over Burnley that could have been more.

It was certainly far closer to Tuchel’s idea of football than Wednesday’s drab draw with Wolves, which illustrates the benefit of a few days’ coaching under the German. As such, it might well be considered the true start of his era, with the fine goals to match.

It is evidently a restart for a few players, too. Hudson-Odoi, having been so infrequently used by Frank Lampard, was man of the match. Marcos Alonso, having been bombed out since the 3-3 draw at West Brom in December, was just explosive here and brilliantly hit the clinching goal.

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To add to their displays, though, Timo Werner looked sharper while Lampard favourite Mason Mount showed he may well achieve a similar status under Tuchel.

They all grew into the game, and showed the true potential for growth in this squad as a whole.

That is to the manager’s credit so far, as is the context.

In terms of showing what he’s about as a manager, Tuchel has probably been a little unlucky in that all of his first league games are against some of the coaches who most prioritise defensive organisation. First Nuno Espirito Santo, here Sean Dyche, on Thursday Jose Mourinho before a game against Steve Bruce.

None of these sides exactly afford you much space around their box to express yourself. It was perhaps one reason why Mateo Kovacic has been so influential in both games so far, in what might be described as the Marco Verratti role. That is where the free space was. It was his driving run that created the first big opportunity of the game, releasing Callum Hudson-Odoi for a deflected shot from wide. It was only the first of many times Chelsea threatened down that side.

Burnley, for their part, deny you much more than space.

Shortly before the goal, Alonso went down after a challenge, screaming in pain. It got an even louder response from Burnley, that reverberated around the empty stadium.

As Dyche seemed to just shout indiscriminately, assistant Ian Woan – in the news the other day after a flash point with Jack Grealish – jumped to screech at referee Graham Scott: “It’s because he f****** squealed?!”

Nick Pope, meanwhile, ran out of his goal to offer similar. “Maybe I’ll squeal next time?”

Chelsea weren’t intimidated. They followed it with their most intricate move of the game. Tuchel’s first goal at the club wasn’t a lucky bounce or something out of nothing, but instead the type of lightning attack he would idealise.

Mason Mount surged through in the way Kovacic had done earlier on, Hudson-Odoi again receiving it as he blazed through.

This time, though, the winger played a fine reverse pass for the oncoming Cesar Azpilicueta. The full-back, able to get forward in a manner he wasn’t against Wolves, finished in a manner he doesn’t usually offer. A brilliant goal.

Cesar Azpilicueta blasted home the first goal of the Thomas Tuchel era

Perhaps this is one vision of the future under Tuchel, with players suddenly appearing where you wouldn’t expect them. That was the vision of the second half, at least.

With Chelsea released by the goal, and Christian Pulisic on for Tammy Abraham, they were suddenly flying at Burnley from all angles. It was some of their most exhilarating play for some time, and the scoreline didn’t really reflect that.

It was really only typically brilliant Burnley obstruction, the occasional poor decision and the post that prevented it being more than 1-0 in that spell.

Hudson-Odoi had another effort deflected onto the post, Ben Mee almost diverted one cross into the net, and Pope plucked a fine Werner header out of the air.

As if to round off the story of the day, and wrap up the game, there was then the identity of the eventual scorer of the clinching goal.

Marcos Alonso scored Chelsea’s second late on to seal the win

Alonso’s face was a picture, after a beauty of a finish. For a wing-back – who hasn’t played in months – it was more like vintage Marcelo Salas or Marco van Basten. Alonso took it on his knee on the turn to finally beat Mee.

Both Chelsea goals had been of supreme quality, which was probably what was required to beat this goalkeeper.

It was certainly required for Tuchel. He may well prove he’s what’s required for this super-talented Chelsea squad. This was persuasive proof.

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