Mail on Sunday
“If Chelsea’s attacking players operated with quite the same ruthlessness as the man pulling their strings then perhaps they would be reflecting on something more substantial than the maintenance of an unbeaten run,” writes Riath Al-Samarrai for the Mail on Sunday.
“For that, consider the brooding sight of Callum Hudson-Odoi, who returned to his seat in Row L approximately half an hour after he left it to come on as a substitute. He sat under his pale blue hood processing the indignity of it all, while a few yards in front Thomas Tuchel did some huffing and puffing of his own.
“It was that kind of day, and quite possibly the German’s most frustrating since he took over a few weeks back.
“At times, particularly in the first half, Chelsea were utterly dominant, albeit with the drawback of failing in football’s prime objective. Possession? Yes, loads of it. More than 70 per cent, all told. Chances and goals? Far trickier business, that.
“All of which meant Chelsea remained unbeaten in seven since Tuchel’s arrival, but fell short of a sixth win.
“It is excellent going, but the tasks will get far more difficult in this coming week, with games against Atletico Madrid and Manchester United. It will be intriguing to see how they emerge from a proper stress test.”
“It was a result which also curtailed Chelsea’s new manager bounce under Thomas Tuchel,” writes Jim White for the Telegraph. “A sequence of five straight wins came to a shuddering halt. But in a sense, it was no surprise.
“These were managerial opponents who knew each other well from their time in Germany. This was familiarity breeding stalemate; two disciples of the Bundesliga press, playing identical systems, ultimately cancelled each other out.
“This was a game which will live long in the memory solely of those obsessed with possession stats and the efficacy of the high block.
“Perhaps the the only moment of proper drama came in the middle of the second half. Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi had come on at half time as substitute after Tammy Abraham picked up an ankle knock.
“After half an hour of doing little to affect the flow, the winger was then himself replaced by Hakim Ziyech.
“And it was clearly a move that reflected Tuchel’s gathering exasperation with his side’s terminal lack of a cutting edge.”
“The early weeks of Tuchel’s reign have seen Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho pair up in midfield, with the former in particular showing particularly good form,” writes Karl Matchett for the Independent.
“Back to full fitness and with a couple of appearances under his belt, N’Golo Kante returned to the line-up here, with the manager having already explained how keen he is to harness the full and considerable talents of the World Cup-winner.
“That skill-set was quickly on show, with Kante effective in ensuring Chelsea remained dominant in possession by winning the ball back within seconds – he led the game by a distance for tackles, was able to show good positional work to intercept through-passes and his driving from deep was occasionally on show, too.
“This was an early indication that Kante and Kovacic, who the manager has also singled out for praise, will be Tuchel’s first-choice pairing when possible.”
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Tuchel made the point that it was the second time during his seven-game tenure that Hudson-Odoi had struggled after being sent on as a substitute – the first was in the win at Sheffield United – and it was something the 20-year-old had to rectify,” writes David Hytner for the Guardian.
“The Chelsea manager is plainly looking for a reaction from Hudson-Odoi, who has generally performed well for him, beginning in Tuesday’s Champions League last 16, first-leg tie against Atletico Madrid.
“But it was difficult to ignore the feeling, as the player walked off with a face like thunder, that he was taking a risk. This is Chelsea, a club synonymous with player power.
“Tuchel raged on the touchline for much of a game that was characterised by Chelsea’s ineptitude in the final third and Southampton’s resilience. Chelsea had all the ball but their domination was largely sterile.
“Time and again, either the decision-making or the execution of the final action was poor.”