Tuchel earns first win as Chelsea boss as Leicester slip up
LONDON, Jan 31, 2021 (BSS/AFP) – Chelsea notched their first win of the Thomas Tuchel era on Sunday as Leicester squandered their chance to leapfrog Manchester United into second place in the Premier League table.
Defenders Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso produced stunning finishes as Chelsea beat toothless Burnley 2-0 at Stamford Bridge in the early kick-off.
Leicester, looking to close to within two points of leaders Manchester City, took the lead against Leeds but Patrick Bamford played a part in all three goals as Marcelo Bielsa’s men stormed back to win 3-1.
Champions Liverpool are in action at in-form West Ham in the late-afternoon kick-off before Tottenham take on Brighton.
Former Paris Saint-German boss Tuchel was brought in to replace Frank Lampard last week with a brief to haul stuttering Chelsea back into the race for Champions League spots.
He endured a frustrating goalless draw against Wolves at Stamford Bridge in midweek but two moments of magic from Azpilicueta and forgotten man Alonso mean the German now has four points from six.
The result lifted Chelsea to seventh in the table, just four points behind fourth-placed Liverpool before they kicked off.
Tuchel said the victory would infuse his side with confidence but said they needed to sharpen up their finishing after both goals came from defenders.
“It should be a signal to our guys up front that we needed defensive players to score,” he told BT Sport.
“We lacked precision in the last pass and touch, but in the finishing we will work on this absolutely. We had a lot of touches, half-chances and deliveries in the box, but in the end I could not care less.”
Chelsea earned the breakthrough their football deserved five minutes before half-time when Azpilicueta lashed home after a neat assist from the lively Callum Hudson-Odoi.
The home side created a succession of chances after the break and Alonso made the three points safe six minutes from time when he controlled a Christian Pulisic cross on his chest and thigh before firing past Nick Pope.
The Spaniard, who had been frozen out by Lampard since September, kissed his Chelsea badge as the players celebrated a vital win.
– Leicester slip up –
Leicester, unbeaten in seven Premier League games heading into their match against Leeds at the King Power Stadium, had a chance to put real pressure on Manchester City.
Harvey Barnes gave the home side the lead in the 13th minute, rolling a shot into the bottom corner of the net after a driving run and a neat one-two with James Maddison.
But Leeds were level just 127 seconds later when Bamford set up Stuart Dallas, who beat Kasper Schmeichel with a low finish.
The visitors went ahead in the 70th minute when Bamford beat Schmeichel with a left-footed strike into the far top corner of the net and the Leeds forward teed up Jack Harrison for a tap-in six minutes from time.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, who returned to winning ways with a 3-1 win against Tottenham in midweek, face a tricky task at the London Stadium.
They were seven points behind leaders City ahead of kick-off, knowing they could not afford to lose further ground in the title race.
Injury-hit Liverpool are without any senior centre-backs and forward Sadio Mane was also missing from the squad.
Manchester City are increasingly heavy favourites to win their third Premier League title in four years after stumbles from all their main challengers in recent weeks.