Fantasy football players be warned: Thomas Tuchel is almost certainly going to irritate you at some point this season.
The German coach arrived at Stamford Bridge with a reputation as one of European football’s deepest thinkers. He has his overarching principles and tactical non-negotiables but isn’t wedded to one system and will throw his fair share of curveballs when it comes to selecting his side.
That much was obvious just 24 hours after his appointment was confirmed. Tuchel changed Chelsea’s formation to 3-4-3 for the visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers, but more surprisingly was that Callum Hudson-Odoi was deployed at right wing-back.
That the 20-year-old impressed in the role is testament to his ability and Tuchel’s football instinct. It is a similar story with Marcos Alonso, who has been brought back into the starting XI after months on the sidelines under Frank Lampard – and to good effect.
In the 47-year-old’s opening three matches at the helm, there have been several nuances to Chelsea’s system. The 3-4-3 morphed into a 3-4-1-2 during the second half against Burnley, with Timo Werner and Christian Pulisic leading the line.
And in the trip to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Thursday, Mason Mount spent a spell in the opening period playing as a false nine with Werner and Hudson-Odoi moving into wider areas.
This tactical flexibility will only serve Chelsea well going forward, as Mount explained after the victory over Spurs: “It’s a positive for us and makes it difficult for the teams we come up against: they are never going to know what we come with.
“So we’re working on different formations, different tactics day in, day out at training. We’re focused on getting better and better and getting those wins.”
Tuchel’s next assignment is to guide his Chelsea side to victory over Sheffield United. The Blades are currently bottom of the Premier League having taken only 11 points from their 22 matches thus far.
However, nine of those points have…