It was a rather odd 90 minutes on Saturday night at the Etihad, simultaneously low-key yet also intense, a dress rehearsal for the Champions League final yet also a game of massive consequence for the Premier League, a game featuring three goals called back for offsides, multiple contentious penalty decisions, a saved Panenka, and more events decided by luck than a day in the life of Harvey Dent.
At the end of the day however Chelsea emerged with all three points, and perhaps we should no longer be surprised by that. Except for when playing with ten men, nothing seems to phase this team, and that’s credit to the coaching staff and to head coach Thomas Tuchel, who praised his rotated side’s courage, intensity, and attitude.
“It was a tactical match [and] I had the feeling that we were a bit tired, a bit slow in decision making, a bit too rushed in decisions, rushed into our attacks, we lost the ball too early, but there was no big problem. At half time we said to ourselves ‘let’s continue like it is 0-0, don’t lose our heads now because of the last three minutes, take it as a 0-0 and from there we go’.
“They stepped up and tried to play with courage, to have more possession in their half and this is what they did. The momentum changed completely with the goal. I could feel it, the momentum was growing, the confidence was growing and we were adding more and more quality and pressure.
“We never stopped attacking, I am very aware and I will never deny that you need a little bit of luck in any match in football and we had it in the second half. It is a huge win, big reaction and a fantastic team performance in the second half.”
Games at the top level are often decided by small margins and bits of luck, and this game seemed to feature more such potential turning points than most. Of course, it’s not all about luck, but as long as we take care of the things we can directly influence, we will, more often than not, “make” our own luck.
On another day, Kurt Zouma gets called for a penalty, Agüero doesn’t miss, and Alonso’s miscued winning shot loops into the arms of the goalkeeper instead of over his head. And on another day, Sterling’s tackle on Werner gets judged more harshly, Christensen clears the ball and doesn’t hurt himself, the referee doesn’t fall for Jesus falling, and Werner stays a few inches closer to his own goal.
Good teams tend to get lucky.
“Everybody who was out there gave every drop of intensity and work rate. This is what you need to feel it, really feel the strong bond and strengthen your bond. These experiences, these wins, these big games and you need to be a bit lucky, like I said, this is nothing to be ashamed of.
Especially because the players do everything they can to force luck on our side. This is what it is and now we catch the momentum and we have another big win, from there on, it increases our self-confidence in a healthy way.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
Clear eyes. Full hearts.
Next up: Arsenal on Wednesday, then the FA Cup final. Chelsea are now third. Let’s go!