Chelsea: Édouard Mendy keeps Leeds at bay to extend Chelsea’s unbeaten run

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel was hired for his winning habit more than his drawing tendency but, a dozen games into his reign, the German has already overseen stalemates in January, February and March.

Advertisements
Advertisements

The term feels inappropriate in this case, however: goalless draws are rarely this vibrant.

If Tuchel’s preference for control came up against Marcelo Bielsa’s chaos theory, the scoreline would suggest the Chelsea manager imposed his style of play.

The drama told another tale.

He needed the woodwork to preserve his unbeaten record indeed Leeds hit the frame of the goal at either end while both goalkeepers made fine saves and a total of 22 shots was evidence of attacking intent.

Tuchel conducted a running argument with Leeds’ voluble director of football, Victor Orta, and continued his experiments with his new charges.

Chelsea’s Maren Mjelde: ‘This whole season is weird, but we’re privileged to play’

The sense is that questions remain about the composition of his forward line.

Chelsea have only scored 13 times in his 12 games and there appears to be an element of trial and error in Tuchel’s research.

  Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal: players rating

He managed to crowbar four players who may be No 10s by preference into his team, but three of them did not complete the game and it did not prove a potent formula.

Christian Pulisic was one and became Tuchel’s latest improbable wing-back as he started a league game under the German for the first time since their Dortmund days.

That surprise switch almost reaped an early reward when Kai Havertz almost converted the American’s cross.

Yet Tuchel’s dissatisfaction with Pulisic was apparent in his efforts to micromanage him long before he took him off.

Havertz, outstanding as a false nine against Everton five games earlier, could not quite deliver a first league goal since October.

Illan Meslier tipped over a rising, rasping shot after he turned into space and Havertz offered hints of encouragement but, given Leeds’ preference for a high defensive line, there may have been a case for Timo Werner to reprise the striking role he was given against Liverpool.

Certainly Hakim Ziyech, who started on the right, did too little to press his case.

Not for the first time under Tuchel, some of Chelsea’s threat stemmed from their defenders.

  Olise: EPL big teams are in quick run for Nigerian player

Ben Chilwell prodded a shot wide and Illan Meslier parried a menacing effort from Antonio Rüdiger.

Ultimately, though, the closest they came was courtesy of two of the Leeds rearguard.

Bielsa’s charges have a deserved reputation for entertaining; even by their standards, however, there was something improbable about Luke Ayling’s attempted clearance, which cannoned into Diego Llorente and on to the bar.

Leeds completed a third consecutive game without scoring, but only just.

Tyler Roberts’ long quest for a maiden Premier League goal continued despite two near-misses.

He had a tap-in chalked off because Patrick Bamford, his supplier, had been offside and then bent a shot against the bar, with Édouard Mendy getting a slight and crucial touch.

Leeds lost Bamford, who limped off against his former employers, albeit ones he never represented in a senior match.

Rodrigo replaced him and found Raphinha with a header when the Brazilian swivelled to shoot, forcing Mendy into a wonderful save.

Llorente’s shot deflected off Reece James, wrongfooted Mendy and landed on the roof of the net, while the unmarked Rodrigo headed straight at the goalkeeper

  Jose Mourinho says Gareth Bale's Instagram post confused his reality fitness

The draw nevertheless took Leeds to 36 points.

They are far closer to achieving their objectives for the season than Chelsea are.

… we have a small favour to ask. Millions turn to the Guardian every day for vital, independent, quality journalism.

Readers in 180 countries around the world now support us financially.

Now is the time to support a free press and truth-seeking journalism.

With no shareholders or billionaire owner, we are free from political or commercial influence.

We can investigate, challenge and expose those in power, and report without fear or favour.

And because we believe everyone deserves access to trustworthy, fact-led news and analysis, we keep Guardian reporting open for all readers, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.

We rely on readers’ generosity to power our work and protect our independence.

Every contribution, however big or small, makes a difference for our future.