Experience favoured over youth
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Chelsea’s academy graduates featured prominently throughout Frank Lampard’s tenure but the only representative in Tuchel’s first line-up was Callum Hudson-Odoi. Tammy Abraham, Reece James and, perhaps most surprisingly, Mason Mount were all benched.
Instead, Tuchel went in the other direction. “The expectations are high, the pressure and tension are high, so we went for a bit of experience,” he explained ahead of kick-off at Stamford Bridge.
Thiago Silva was joined at the back by Cesar Azpilicueta and Antonio Rudiger, a defensive trio with a combined age of 94, while the 29-year-old Jorginho partnered Mateo Kovacic at the base of midfield and Olivier Giroud, 34, led the line up front.
Hudson-Odoi, Kai Havertz and Ben Chilwell ensured there was at least some youthful verve in the side but the other eight starters had an average age of close to 30 as Tuchel erred on the side of caution.
He called it the “most unfair line-up” he had ever selected having only had one training session with the players since his appointment on Tuesday but the approach was perhaps understandable given Chelsea’s poor form and his limited preparation time.
Abraham and Mount did at least make it off the bench in the closing stages with the latter in particular catching eye. He and the rest of Chelsea’s young academy graduates will hope for greater involvement when Tuchel’s side face Burnley on Sunday.
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