Thomas Tuchel's unbeaten run continues but Chelsea gripped by uncertainty

Blues have just 13 goals in a dozen games after draw against Leeds

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Thomas Tuchel has been an upgrade on Frank Lampard in many a respect. Not this, perhaps. Chelsea’s best league performance of the season under the manager they later sacked came against Leeds in December when victory took them top. A scoreless draw in the rematch did his successor fewer favours.

Chelsea remain unbeaten under Tuchel, and never went 10 league games without defeat under Lampard, but points were dropped. They face Atletico Madrid on Wednesday with a return to the Champions League feeling more uncertain.

They at least meet the Spanish league leaders with a 10th clean sheet in 12 attempts. Leeds almost registered that rarity – a goal against Tuchel’s Chelsea – even if they also hit their own bar. But while Illan Meslier was the game’s busier keeper, Edouard Mendy may have produced its best save. Once again, Marcelo Bielsa’s promoted side looked at home against the elite, and the scoreline should not camouflage the attacking ambition in their play.

Rather, it is a concern to Tuchel that Chelsea have a mere 13 goals in his dozen games. “We created enough chances, enough shots, enough touches in the box to score one or two goals,” he said.

“I believe we have the quality to use the chances better.” His reign has amounted to a quest to find his finest forward formula; he is no nearer resolving it. Chelsea’s accumulation of expensive attackers offers opportunity, but brings the expectation of more potency. Instead, the search for chemistry continues.

Kai Havertz had been a revelation against Everton, though his manager underlined he sees him as a genuine striker. "I think he is pretty much a No. 9, I don't think he is a false nine because he likes being in a high position," Tuchel said.

Unfortunately he could not finish like he finishes in training

The sequel was less spectacular, though not a failure. Havertz was the brightest of Chelsea’s front three and showed an eye for an opening. Meslier denied the £63 million signing a first league goal in 16 games with a terrific save, as Luke Ayling had done with a well-judged tackle. “Unfortunately he could not finish like he finishes in training,” rued Tuchel.

He is a left-field thinker when it comes to right wing-backs and Christian Pulisic’s first league start for the German since their Borussia Dortmund days came on the flank. He set up Havertz’s first chance but otherwise his was an underwhelming outing that Tuchel, after some illustrations of frustration, curtailed.

The excellent Meslier also saved from Mason Mount, Havertz and substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi but Tuchel admitted: “It is my responsibility to create more.”

And Meslier’s second finest stop came at Antonio Rudiger’s expense, but Chelsea should not rely on a centre-back to score from 25 yards. Leeds could take solace in the clean sheet, especially in the absence of their ill captain Liam Cooper and with their 13th centre-back partnership of the season; the notion of a rotating cast of centre-halves is not confined to Liverpool.

Two of Bielsa’s many candidates almost gifted Chelsea a goal. “If there had to be a winner it wouldn't have been us,” said the honest Leeds manager. Diego Llorente nearly submitted his candidature for the award for the own goal of the season, inadvertently getting in the way of Ayling’s clearance and seeing it rebound on to the bar.

It was not the only deflection involving Llorente. His late shot looped up off Reece James and just cleared the Chelsea goal. The other time Edouard Mendy was beaten, Tyler Roberts was denied a belated first top-flight goal as Patrick Bamford had been offside. When Roberts’ curler was bound for the top corner, Mendy made a magnificent save to tip it on to the bar.

The unmarked Rodrigo also directed a header straight at Mendy during a curious cameo: coming on for Bamford, who was injured against his old employers, he was substituted himself. “The contribution Rodrigo made was above what he is capable of doing at the moment,” Bielsa said. The same may be said of Leeds who, with 36 points, are surely safe with two months to go.