A dominant 4-0 Chelsea win on Wednesday night against Malmö FF was marred by a pair of first-half injuries, first to Romelu Lukaku and then to Timo Werner.
Lukaku picked up an ankle problem as a result of a tackle from behind — Jorginho converted from the spot after the referee gave the penalty — while Werner simply just pulled his hamstring while making a far-post run. These things happen, I suppose, but they happened within 20 minutes of each other, and on a night when perhaps neither player actually needed to play. Chelsea were expected to be dominant, and delivered on that promise from the first minute to the last, easily dismissing the Swedish champions.
That said, ignoring the injuries, it was exactly the sort of performance we’d all like to see from Chelsea on a more regular basis: solid at the back, controlled in the middle, incisive up front. Tuchel was rightly pleased.
“We wanted three points and wanted them deserved and we got both of those. We played to huge intensity, we demanded this from us and we played an excellent game until it was 4-0. We are very happy.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: BT Sport via BBC
Prior to the match, Tuchel had been lamenting the congested schedule and the workload demands placed on our players, which made Chelsea’s full-strength lineup a bit surprising.
The idea was apparently to use this game as a confidence boost for players who might have needed it — including Lukaku, first and foremost — but instead of celebrating their goals, we’re left to rue their injuries instead. Bad luck? Sure. Would we have made different choices in hindsight? Probably.
There’s no point in regrets.
“If I knew before I wouldn’t have done it. But you can’t know it before and it was necessary that [Lukaku] was on the pitch. [We] knew we could be the dominant team. We knew we wanted to build our attack today with Mason and Timo around him and him as the reference.
“I had the strong belief that in a Champions League match he could turn things around in terms of scoring and being decisive, which he did because he was super strong in our start. He took the foul and without him maybe it’s not 2-0
“So I don’t regret it. It’s not a muscle injury or because of physical fatigue. He is a little bit overplayed, this is my opinion and maybe I’m not even right. But this was a moment to give him confidence and let him play. I don’t regret it, things like this can happen. It was bad luck.”
Whether it’s bad luck or bad decisions, the upshot of it all is that other players will get their chance now. Kai Havertz already scored after coming on for Lukaku, set up by Callum Hudson-Odoi after coming coming on for Werner. And they’ll likely get the start on Saturday against Norwich City.
“I don’t know too much more than you [but] it will take a while for both of them. We need more examinations to be more precise but they will be out for some matches.
“[We] pick the best line-up in our belief to have the best chance [and on] Saturday, 12.30, we will again pick the best team. We will look at the data and be very professional in recovery. It will be easy preparation: we want the same performance again.
“This will be one of the shortest pre-match meetings in my history of coaching because we want every the same as tonight: energy, effort, deep runs, ball wins. We have the chance to switch some positions, to demand from everybody physically the same input and then let’s see.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
Next up: Norwich City, who are bottom of the Premier League table. Regardless of exact personnel, we will be expected to win.
Time to deliver, and keep delivering!