Chelsea have an embarrassment of riches but Tuchel’s half-time change still took guts, writes Daniel Zeqiri.
It was a neat encapsulation of the respective health of Chelsea and Tottenham’s squad: when Thomas Tuchel made a midfield substitution he introduced N’Golo Kante and when Nuno Espirtio Santo did likewise he brought on Oliver Skipp.
This is too blunt an appraisal of Skipp – a promising player who excelled in Norwich City’s promotion campaign last season – but it underlines how two London powers have moved in opposite directions over the past 18 months.
A transfer ban followed by the financial aftershock of the pandemic offered Chelsea a unique opportunity to invest in a depressed market, while the absence of fans was especially punitive for Spurs in their new stadium.
Despite these advantages, Tuchel swapping Mason Mount for Kante and switching to a 3-5-2 system merits plenty of praise. Tottenham’s high pressing, man-to-man approach knocked Chelsea off course in the first half, even if they reached the break unscathed.
How many times do you see a manager sit on his hands providing the scoreline is acceptable? Not so Tuchel.
Although Chelsea’s first two goals came from a set-piece and deflected long-range shot, they were not scored in a vacuum. Chelsea were having their most dominant spell of the match and Tuchel’s intervention and half-time words proved the catalyst.
Such in-game management is just one reason why Chelsea are close to being title favourites, and Tuchel is considered one of the best coaches around.