At some point things got a bit heated and personal between the two benches — plenty of personal history there, after all — and that level of intensity was matched on the pitch as well, in what turned out to be a rather tough cup tie even if it was just the League Cup.
Then again, we probably should’ve expected nothing less from Southampton, who played us close a few weeks ago in the league, and that was before the injury bug hit the Blues. In fact, Tuchel had to put out a more rotated lineup than he would’ve liked (and also make some interesting positional choices like Ben Chilwell at right wing-back), with César Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek all getting ruled out the day before, joining already injured trio Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner, and Christian Pulisic, with N’Golo Kanté also getting rested out of continuing precaution.
The haphazard starting eleven may not have played scintillating football, and those already on the fringes of the team didn’t exactly do much to convince Tuchel otherwise, but in the end we prevailed in yet another penalty shootout. So if nothing else, we’ve got our resilience and attitude to rely on, and sometimes that’s enough ... just barely, but enough.
“We were expecting it to be difficult [and] we had some last-minute changes [so] it was the first time we played together in this selection and we knew it would be tough against a team that put so much pressure on you. [It was] a really tough match, and in the end we are happy to win the penalty shoot-out.
“When you play Southampton you know what you get, intensity, high pressing, a team full of courage and speed. It’s their identity. You have to accept things get tough, and the challenges are constantly there. That’s why I am happy with the performance and the result.”
One very easy way a good season can be derailed is through injuries, but fortunately it sounds like the new names in the treatment room won’t be there for too long. Our schedule may be relatively easy at the moment, but There Are No Easy Games In The Premier League™ and it’s very tight at the top with Liverpool and Manchester City relentlessly chalking up the wins as well.
“We hope Azpi is back for the weekend. He had a shoulder injury yesterday in training when he fell on it. It’s very painful but he’s Azpi and he’s a tough guy.
“Ruben felt after training some pain in his hip joint. Hopefully we can handle it for Saturday.
“Andreas needed to recover from tooth surgery and he should be back in training on Thursday if there are no complications.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Chelsea FC
With Christian Pulisic also back on the training pitch, albeit only doing fitness drills, perhaps we can avoid a true injury crisis and knock out these remaining three games before the November international break.
Next up: Newcastle away, which is always a tricky proposition.