Grading Chelsea’s underperforming stars that led to Thomas Tuchel getting SACKED
As the full-time whistle blew in Zagreb, it was another miserable evening for Chelsea as their Champions League campaign got off to the worst possible start with a shock 1-0 defeat to Dinamo Zagreb.
Little did we know this would lead to the brutal sacking of Thomas Tuchel on Wednesday morning after just seven games of the season.
Despite spending almost £300m, Chelsea have lost three away games on the trot, kept just one clean sheet in seven and look disjointed as the pressure ramped up before the German’s services were dispensed with.
Thomas Tuchel was sacked by Chelsea on Wednesday following defeat to Dinamo Zagreb
Chelsea owner Todd Boehly dismissed Tuchel despite being just seven games into the season
The Blues put in an extremely poor performance against the Croatian side on Tuesday night
Their new signings are not settling, players look out of form and Tuchel continued to switch tactics.
On Tuesday, the German again changed from a back three to a back four during the game, while the sight of £50m attacker Raheem Sterling dropping deep to play in central midfield and Hakim Ziyech switching from right-wing to left-wing-back demonstrated how the manager couldn’t find the right combinations.
Their dismal evening was perhaps best summed up by half-time substitute Ziyech crashing two identical free-kicks straight into the wall during the final minutes.
Graham Potter has now been announced as his successor as he casts his eye over a fragile looking squad.
Sportsmail has graded all 22 of the Blues stars to feature so far this season and pinpoints what players need to improve under the former Brighton boss.
Edouard Mendy – D
The Senegalese stopper is usually so reliable for Chelsea but has struggled so far this campaign, with a major error against Leeds, while he was lucky Maxwel Cornet’s late goal for West Ham was overturned by VAR last Saturday after Mendy spilled the ball.
Having already conceded nine goals in six games, Chelsea’s No 1 needs to improve.
Kepa Arrizabalaga – C
The Spaniard has featured just once this season – in Tuesday’s defeat to Zagreb – but put in a solid display, with one fantastic second half save where he tipped the ball onto the woodwork.
Edouard Mendy has begun to make more mistakes for Chelsea after usually being so reliable
Kepa made one fantastic save during the second half of Tuesday’s defeat to Dinamo Zagreb
Chelsea have already conceded nine goals in six Premier League games this season
Reece James – B
One of the few players to emerge with any credit, James was Chelsea’s best player on Tuesday as he kept driving forward until the end.
The England star has had to fill in at centre-back at times so far this year, limiting his impact on the game, but has already managed a goal and an assist and will hope to increase his attacking output over the coming weeks.
Wesley Fofana – C
After signing for £75m, Fofana looked solid at the weekend but was less assured in Zagreb and arguably at fault for Mislav Orsic’s goal.
At just 21, he is no doubt a star of the future, but will need to develop his relationship with Kalidou Koulibaly with the pair looking uncertain together on Tuesday.
Ben Chilwell – B
Still searching for full fitness after his long-term lay-off last year, Chilwell has been displaced by new £62m signing Marc Cucurella in the starting XI.
However, the former Leicester defender took his chance on Saturday, scoring and assisting after coming on to turn the game around against West Ham, while he most certainly wasn’t the worst player for the Blues on Tuesday as he earnt a rare start.
Kalidou Koulibaly – D
Despite being an experienced Champions League player, the 31-year-old looked shaky against Zagreb and has struggled to adapt to the demands of the Premier League.
His tough start to life at Stamford Bridge was demonstrated by his red card against Leeds, and the £34m signing must help Chelsea’s defence to tighten up.
Reece James has been one of the bright spots for Chelsea so far this season, but has had to fill in at centre-back
Kalidou Koulibaly has struggled to adapt since his £34m move from Napoli this summer
Marc Cucurella – B
The Spaniard immediately broke into the Chelsea team as first-choice on the left hand side after arriving from Brighton and has started solidly, laying on two assists already.
Trevoh Chalobah – C
The Cobham academy product has played just once – during Chelsea’s 2-1 win against Leicester – and he demonstrated his reliability, although Chalobah has fallen significantly down the pecking order after the summer arrivals of Koulibaly and Fofana.
Cesar Azpilicueta – C
After signing a new deal, it has been a tough start to the campaign for Chelsea’s club captain, with the 33-year-old featuring for just 265 minutes across six games this year.
He was hooked at half-time in Zagreb as Tuchel tried to change his side’s fortunes.
Thiago Silva – B
Despite now being 37, the Brazilian continues to show his class and reliability as Silva remains arguably Chelsea’s most important centre-back.
With the most clearances, blocks and interceptions of any Blues player, managing the veteran’s fitness will be crucial for Tuchel’s replacement in turning around Chelsea’s slump.
Thiago Silva continues to show his class and reliability but is now 37-years-old
Marc Cucurella has looked bright since his £62m transfer from Brighton this summer
Jorginho has struggled without N’Golo Kante’s presence alongside him
Mason Mount – C
It is a big few months for Mount as the midfielder looks to build up some form to ensure he has a key role to play for England at the World Cup.
However, he’s struggled so far and is yet to register a goal or an assist in seven outings.
Mateo Kovacic – C
Still searching for full fitness after an early season knee problem, Kovacic is yet to recapture his best form.
He struggled on Tuesday, but was not helped by a lack of support around him as Tuchel selected an imbalanced midfield.
Jorginho – C
Like Kovacic, the Italian is still searching for his best form, but is also struggling without N’Golo Kante alongside him.
N’Golo Kante – C
Injury problems continue to haunt the Frenchman after he hobbled off at the end of the 2-2 draw with Tottenham last month.
It is perhaps no surprise that Chelsea have conceded eight goals in five games without the 31-year-old, with his absence leaving the defence exposed.
Despite his undoubted talent, Mason Mount is yet to provide a goal or assist so far this season
Mateo Kovacic has struggled to recapture his best form since returning from injury
Conor Gallagher – D
Despite high hopes for his return, Gallagher has struggled back at Stamford Bridge so far, failing to impress on his first start at Leeds and being sent off against Leicester.
The 22-year-old was left on the bench against Zagreb and will hope to find a more prominent role under the new manager.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek – C
Now 26, it is a big season for Loftus-Cheek to finally make his mark at Chelsea and he has started the last five Premier League games.
However, he has shown inconsistency when featuring in an unfamiliar right-wing-back role and will be desperate to increase his attacking output.
Gallagher has had a tough start this season following several loan spells away from the club
N’Golo Kante continues to be hampered by fitness issues and is a big miss for Chelsea
Hakim Ziyech – E
The Moroccan was the player who received the most criticism for yesterday’s performance after his refusal to allow Reece James to take a 96th minute free-kick.
Ziyech then hit the set piece straight into the wall, which followed an identical set-piece just minutes earlier from a promising position.
Linked with an exit this summer, the £33m arrival from Ajax in 2020 clearly has talent but has struggled to show any semblance of consistency during his time at Stamford Bridge.
Raheem Sterling – B
Brought in for £50m to give Chelsea’s attack a clinical edge, Sterling has shown his quality in glimpses.
His three Premier League goals have been most welcome, but the England star was largely anonymous last night – Sterling needs to contribute more consistently if Chelsea are to kick on this season.
Hakim Ziyech has struggled for consistency ever since his £33m transfer from Ajax in 2020
Raheem Sterling has shown glimpses of his quality since his summer move from Man City
Christian Pulisic – C
Like Ziyech, Pulisic is another big-money signing that struggles to display consistency for Chelsea.
After being keen to leave this summer, the American is yet to contribute a goal or assist in seven games, although only one of these have been starts.
Kai Havertz – C
Leading the line in the absence of a proper striker this season, Havertz netted his first goal of the campaign against West Ham at the weekend.
However, the German is yet another unreliable forward option and Chelsea must be more clinical in front of goal under the new manager.
Christian Pulisic and Kai Havertz are two of Chelsea’s several inconsistent attacking options
Armando Broja – C
Yet to start for the club this season, the academy product has had limited opportunities to demonstrate why he gained so many plaudits on loan at Southampton last year.
He was thrown on for Aubameyang last night, but had little impact in an overall disjointed Chelsea performance.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – C
After much talk about whether Chelsea were right to sign Aubameyang, the former Arsenal skipper made his debut against Zagreb.
Although he had a goal ruled out for offside, he looked largely off the pace in Croatia.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made his debut against Zagreb but struggled to impact the game