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Guardiola strikes back in Tuchel battle as Blues boss gets it wrong


And having spent the past six months or so inside Pep Guardiola’s head, he can consider himself evicted for now.

Instead, the German will be left to pore over his own role in this first defeat of the season for Chelsea that saw them miss the chance to open up a six-point gap on Premier League champions Manchester City.

He got his team selection all wrong, waited too long to make the necessary adjustments and in the end he could consider himself fortunate to lose to just the solitary goal from Gabriel Jesus.

It was Guardiola who was accused of over-thinking last season’s Champions League final, naming a starting XI that included neither a holding midfielder nor a striker.

But on this occasion, it was Tuchel who offered up a confusing lineup, with N’Golo Kante as his most creative midfielder. As a result the France international neither provided the guile as a link man, nor the ball-winning qualities that are his hallmark. On too many occasions he was bypassed in an opening period in which City dominated.

It left Chelsea with Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner stranded up the pitch, their teammates struggling to find them in the face of the visitors’ press.

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With Mason Mount injured, Tuchel had opted against starting Kai Havertz and how he missed the German’s ability to hold the ball up and run at players.

Too often Lukaku and Werner lacked the touch and link-up to punish City as Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte bossed the Chelsea forwards.

In Tuchel’s defence, he could point to an early injury to Reece James as a reason for not making what is becoming a customary half-time change. But with the game goalless at the break he missed the opportunity to make a decisive intervention.


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