After two months and fourteen games, the unbeaten start to Thomas Tuchel’s time at Chelsea was over, and over in rather spectacular fashion. West Brom’s 5-2 win at Stamford Bridge was one of the more shocking and unexpected turn of events even in a season and world full of unexpected events.
Given the scoreline, the timing, some of the breathless post-match reporting, and West Ham taking advantage to move back up into fourth and push Chelsea down to fifth, the loss feels even bigger than just one game. Not so much a reality check, but a big slap in the face, according to the head coach himself.
“We got a big slap in the face and if it was required to remind us how tough it is to have clean sheets and keep winning, we take it like this. [...] Maybe it reminds all of us – myself included – that the race isn’t finished. We are in the middle. West Ham took advantage and we have to accept it.”
Having conceded just twice in 14 games only to concede five times in 90 minutes, the performance on Saturday was entirely uncharacteristic of Tuchel’s Chelsea. That said, it was not nearly as uncharacteristic of Chelsea if we look a bit further back. The previous 18 months had more than their fair share of interesting scorelines and shocking lapses of concentration and organization.
“We will never accept a game where we concede five goals at home, even with a man down. This is something we won’t accept. I feel the players were very hard on themselves and for me, it was super hard to accept it because I have high demands of myself and the results of the team I coach. So this was a big slap in the face but it was my job as a coach not to get lost in my emotions, not to get lost in anger and disappointment. I have to get up and watch the game again, watch our performances, watch our behaviour.”
“Clearly, there were things we should’ve done better and have done better: better behaviour on the pitch. how we defended with our principles how we attack with our rhythm, our body positions and distances on the pitch with our passing to escape pressure. [...] We had problems adapting to the situation but it wasn’t a question of character. We showed a lot of character in 14 matches, showed a lot of character since we arrived and in the race for top four. Now we have had a setback.
“It’s only our fault we lost the game. It was our fault we conceded a red card, our fault to gamble on the red card, our fault about how we behaved in the 60 minutes after that to allow the opponent to score five goals. Now we have to deal with the consequences.”
Tuchel might claim that he’s not concerned by this relapse, but the proof of that pudding will be in the reaction today.
“Even if we hate to lose, and at Chelsea we hate to lose which makes us strong, it’s about the reaction. When you go 14 games without a loss, everyone feels good. But now we have to bounce back together is the next step in our development. This is what we go for. This is sports.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
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