The former PSG head coach had seen his side concede just once and travelled to the south coast today on the back of five consecutive wins in all competitions.
Southampton looked the perfect side against which Chelsea could keep things ticking over. Saints had lost a club-record six league games before Saturday and were without the influential Kyle Walker-Peters and Stuart Armstrong. Confidence wracked and with a centre-back making his Premier League debut, Ralph Hasnehuttl’s side looked there for the taking.
Chelsea’s passive start to the game allowed confidence to grow among the Saints, however. Tuchel’s side were dominating the ball but offering little in the way of a direct threat while Marcos Alonso failed to take advantage of the space offered to him by the Southampton back line in the first half.
The hosts, at least, weren’t threatening. Maybe it was the complete lack of chances created by Southampton that meant Cesar Azpilicueta and Kurt Zouma gave Takumi Minamino the freedom of the Solent to race through, feint twice, ensuring the Chelsea captain and goalkeeper were sat comfortably on the turf, and lift the ball home. Superb composure and attacking instinct that, for all their possession, Chelsea simply didn’t show.
Their profligacy from promising areas will surely be a concern for Tuchel as he stares at the calendar ahead.
Chelsea have had rather an easy ride of it under the German so far, something you would assume was somewhat planned by those appointing him.
Now, though, the real tests start. After Atletico Madrid in the Champions League midweek, Chelsea face Manchester United, Liverpool, Everton and Leeds. All will pose a more considerable threat than the sides Tuchel has come across so far.
There were cries of despair when Mason Mount was left out of Thomas Tuchel’s first starting XI as Chelsea manager.
The England international had been a Frank Lampard favourite, Chelsea’s player of the season and captained the final game of the Blues legend’s tenure. But already in his short career, Mount has overcome a lot.
As he watched millions poured into the side over the summer with competition for his place around every corner, the 22-year-old has continued to improve and kept stellar signings at bay.
Mount admitted in an interview with BT Sport that it had been difficult see Lampard, the man who championed him and has made him the player he is today, depart and be so swiftly replaced by Tuchel. The midfielder may feel he has been in a difficult spot, but his performances aren’t showing it.
The former Portsmouth lad, who scored at Southampton last season, was again the man running things for Chelsea here today. While those around him wasted chances and fluffled attacking balls, Mount was looking to keep the intensity high and managed to win and convert the leveller to prevent a first defeat under Tuchel.
With the clock ticking down, he seemed the only one truely interested in forcing a winner at St. Mary’s.
Those concerns over his future under Tuchel looked to have been packed up rather quickly.
Kurt Zouma had not started a Premier League game since January 3 before being handed his chance here, and his role in the Southampton goal might see him facing another wait.
Thiago Silva is expected to be fit and ready for Atletico Madrid in the Champions League next week and will have no concerns over taking his place back.
Zouma was composed on the ball and had little to do for most of the afternoon, but when it mattered most the Frenchman fell down.
Southampton had hardly threatened for the majority of the first half, but when they finally did, Zouma had run off following Antonio Rudiger, leaving Takumi Minamino in acres of space to have a free run at goal and open the scoring. Not the return he would have been after.