Mason Mount’s Chelsea cameo shows Thomas Tuchel why Frank Lampard rated Chelsea midfielder so highly
Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea reign began with a tepid goalless draw at home to Wolves in the Premier League. The German’s starting XI created more hype than the game itself, and though few players dazzled, a late cameo appearance from Mason Mount helped the midfielder show the new boss why the old one rated him so highly.
Thomas Tuchel, Manager of Chelsea embraces Mason Mount of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge on January 27
Thomas Tuchel was the talk of the town when he was tasked with naming a team just 24 hours after taking training at Chelsea for the very first time.
It’s safe to say the German’s first-ever Chelsea starting XI against Wolves sparked a frenzy on social media. Among the starters: Callum Hudson-Odoi, Cesar Azpilicueta, Olivier Giroud, Kai Havertz and Antonio Rudiger. Among the substitutes: Mason Mount, Reece James, Christian Pulisic, Tammy Abraham and Timo Werner. Billy Gilmour, meanwhile, was out of the squad entirely amid reports he could leave on loan this month.
From 5pm the guessing games began with regards to what formation Tuchel would be deploying, whether Hudson-Odoi would indeed be a wing-back, and what a place on the bench meant for Mount after his run of 13 league starts ended abruptly.
Some answers arrived from 6pm onwards. It was most definitely three at the back: Thiago Silva, Rudiger and Azpilicueta. There were clearly two wing-backs: Hudson-Odoi and Ben Chilwell. While there were also two deep-lying midfielders: Jorginho and Matteo Kovacic.
And then, behind Giroud, there were Hakim Ziyech and Kai Havertz. To call it a 3-4-3 would suggest the pair were as attacking as Giroud, but in roles BT Sport co-commentator Glenn Hoddle described as “inside forwards” it was evident their instruction was to play narrow and allow Chilwell and Hudson-Odoi the space out wide.
At first it looked to be working, what with the players pressing quick in a bid to impress their new boss, but the first half faded into a dull affair which proved far less exciting than the hour that preceded it guessing their approach.
It was somewhat apt, amid all the talk of their potential formation, that Chelsea went on to produce 433 successful passes in the opening half – their most in one Premier League half since Opta’s records began.
Tuchel on goalless draw with Wolves: 'I was very happy with our intensity'
But despite their dominance, they had little to show for it by way of chances, and come the second half Chelsea were left lamenting that it was Chilwell who was presented with their best opportunity just after the hour-mark when leaning back and sending his attempt over following a well-worked move.
It was not until the 77th minute when Tuchel made his first changes, hauling off a surprised-looking Chilwell for Pulisic and replacing Giroud with Abraham. Then in the 82nd minute, on came Mount for Ziyech.
Despite having just 10 minutes to help his Chelsea side find the breakthrough, Mount provided the Blues with the injection of energy they so desperately needed. Deemed a favourite under Frank Lampard, he played with an intent – perhaps buoyed on from being dropped – that proved he was up for the fight to get in his new boss’ good books as well.
Thomas Tuchel the head coach / manager of Chelsea and Mason Mount of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge on January 27
Image credit: Getty Images
A winner never came, but after a tepid display where few players impressed, Mount’s reputation was perhaps only enhanced. There is, therefore, no need to put the writing on the wall just because he did not start the first game under the new manager.
His opportunity will come, and if his cameo was anything to go by, a starting spot as one of those two inside forwards could well be his at home to Burnley on Sunday.