Premier League • England

Chelsea trio branded not good enough after Zagreb debacle as pundits assess Thomas Tuchel sack talk

Kalidou Koulibaly of Chelsea in action against Bruno Petkovic of Dinamo Zagreb during the UEFA Champions League group E match between Dinamo Zagreb and Chelsea FC at Stadion Maksimir

Joe Cole and Peter Crouch have named and shamed three Chelsea players who let the side down following the team’s disappointing 1-0 loss to Dinano Zagreb in their Champions League Group D opener.

The Blues have started the season in poor fashion, slipping to losses on the road to Leeds and Southampton. And their away-day wobbles continued as a much-changed side slipped to a 1-0 defeat in Croatia. The winning goal came from Mislav Orsic, who outpaced Wesley Fofana and dinked a smart finish over Kepa.

Indeed, Fofana came in for some stick from Cole during his half-time analysis.

And while Chelsea were the better team in the second half, they found no way through a resiliant Zagreb defence. The nearest Chelsea came to a goal was through a Reece James shot which struck the base of the post.

Truth be told, he was one of perhaps only two Chelsea players – Cole and Crouch also picked out Kepa – who did not let themselves down on the night.

Assessing the defeat, Cole and Crouch picked out three men in particular who did not cover themselves in glory.

“Kalidou Koulibaly needs to get up to speed, playing in the Champions League and Premier League, as quickly as possible,” Cole said on BT Sport‘s coverage of the Champions League (06/09, 8.02pm).

“The only positive is that there will be a lot of players knocking on Thomas Tuchel’s door and saying to the manager I want to play. But on tonight’s evidence, you just can’t see it.

“[Hakim] Ziyech has a lot of talent, but for whatever reason he’s not clicking for Chelsea.”

Chelsea took Zagreb too lightly

Crouch added: “It was the way they approached the game, they took Zagreb far too lightly. They were getting cut open and taking liberties. Chelsea needed to be clinical. They need to kill the game and make it easy for themselves. They were taking liberties.

“Obviously Zagreb go up the other end, score a goal. And then Chelsea just couldn’t break them down. They were too lax in every department.

“He [Tuchel] was biting his lip there, but he will be having stern words with them in the dressing room.”

Cole was also critical of Tuchel for making too many changes, adding: When you are changing your side so often, it’s hard. There were four or five changes in that front three (sic) and they are all low on confidence!

“The balance in the midfield was lacking too. But the front three, it’s just not happening. For some reason it’s not happening for Ziyech, Pulisic – even Mason [Mount] to a certain point. And when that is not happening. And when you are not performing, you want that solid unit behind you.”

Crouch continued: “There’s two many players in this Chelsea team who you can’t hang your hat on. It’s too easy for them at times. If I was a Chelsea fan I’d be really frustrated! This is becoming a theme. Zagreb. Chelsea. Southampton.

Stopping short of suggesting Tuchel is a man under pressure, Cole then added: “The new ownership group will be feeling frustrated. They want results.”