Thomas Tuchel had been lamenting Chelsea’s bad luck in recent weeks, be that in terms of injuries, infections, or events and results on the pitch, and it looked like we would suffer some more misfortune today, especially when Reece James inadvertently opened the scoring against the run of play by diverting a cross beyond his own goalkeeper.
But Chelsea responded quickly to equalize, and then put together a commendable if a bit uneven second-half performance, and that despite fatigue clearly setting in and a couple more unfortunate injuries forcing Tuchel into unplanned changes. It was a necessary three points, and a welcome festive gift to unwrap on Boxing Day.
“Very big [three points]. The boys are super tired, it was huge.
“We had a bit of a rough start, we were not sharp enough [but] the reaction was good in the first half, second half even better. After our second goal we struggled a bit for ten minutes with the reaction from Villa but then we controlled the match and had big chances on the counter attack. Our transition game could have decided the match earlier but we are super happy with this.
“We have again some injuries to our players and that will not change.”
Thiago Silva and N’Golo Kanté were both forced off in the second half, with the former feeling a twinge in his hamstring and the latter re-injuring himself. Given our luck, these probably won’t turn out to be minor, only days-long problems.
“This is a big reaction and win [but] I am always concerned in the last weeks for the health and the safety of the players. That’s why you don’t see me fully excited. [We] are just checking on a daily basis about who can be pushed.
“[And now] N’Golo is very painful in exactly the same spot where he had his injury versus Juventus. It is exactly same spot. Thiago is hamstrings. Hopefully he went out before it became an injury and from there we try to continue and find a new squad and strong squad on Wednesday.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
Chelsea host Brighton on Wednesday for what’s scheduled to be the last game of the 2021 calendar year. It will also be the first game of the second half of the season, and yet another must-win if we are to stay within a couple games of rampant Manchester City (before we face both them and Liverpool in January).