On Wednesday night, Arsenal won a game at Stamford Bridge for the first time in a decade, their third in a row against Chelsea in all competitions, which is starting to be super annoying. We now have just 3 wins against the Gunners in our last 13 games overall, starting with the 2017 FA Cup final. Good luck to them in the Europa Conference.
More pertinently, the loss means that Chelsea will now have to fight tooth and nail not just for two trophies, but also just to finish in top-four at the end of the season. If suddenly good-again Liverpool win both of their games-in-hand, they will be just one point behind us in fifth with two games to go.
Chelsea’s large squad and decent depth might in theory gives us the ability to challenge consistently on all those fronts. Tuchel has been doing a very good job rotating players as needed, but today, as he admitted afterwards, he might have gone a bit overboard.
“It was maybe too many changes from the last match and I take full responsibility for that. [The] choices were not so good from my side for the line-up. This is on me. We were unlucky. We can lose in football. We did everything today to lose.
“I’m not happy with my line-up. There were too many changes and I shouldn’t have done it like this. It was something in particular but I don’t want to tell you.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Sky via BBC
Like most of Tuchel’s comments, these aren’t just empty platitudes or surface-level PR on his part to deflect attention from the players or whatever. When he says he made too many changes, he understands that such decisions have impact not just on the pitch. After all, it’s one thing to rotate players, but it’s another thing to not even put the likes of Kanté or Rudiger on the bench — as heartening is it may be to see Tino Anjorin or Tino Livramento on the bench.
That sends a different message, and one that didn’t help the team today.
“We all lacked concentration and focus today. That is unusual.
“Maybe I gave signals to the team with the changes that Saturday was on my mind. Even if it’s 5% or 1% that isn’t how we approach things and we got punished. It’s a hard defeat to accept but there’s no other way.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
It’s another cliche to call such defeats “wake-up calls” — ones that may not matter too much in the end for intents and purposes, but serve as a reminder to maintain focus and concentration and effort. Of course, no one should really be needing any such reminder.
But what’s done is done and all we can do is to learn from it, move on from it, get better from it. And with four must-win games ahead, with two trophies on the line in the FA Cup and the Champions League, that is precisely what we must do.
“I don’t know how Arsenal would’ve scored if we didn’t give it to them ourselves. We were not sharp enough, not the same energy as usual.
“We are responsible, I am responsible, we are all in this together so it was not enough to win the game. [We] can’t expect to win games if we’re not 100% in games. We didn’t have a shot for almost the whole second half, then we had a big one, maybe we deserved this today, we learn something.”
“[But] I don’t need these things to wake up to know how hard it is, I don’t need to lose to know this, we needed to wake up again together but I don’t know why. Now everybody is awake again.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: BBC
Eyes wide un-shut.