Thomas Tuchel was left frustrated by the lack of precision and quality of execution displayed by Chelsea forwards today against Manchester City, something quite clear given his sideline reactions throughout the match.
Both Pep Guardiola and Tuchel were looking to keep things tight at the back, hoping for some quality from their forward players to solve the puzzle. The Chelsea boss went as far as reverting to his trusted 3-4-3, the formation which has helped Chelsea be strong defensively in the biggest of games. Pep meanwhile chose to not let more than 4-5 players be ahead of the ball at any given time, to help guard against Chelsea front three on counters.
Unluckily for Chelsea, a combination of poor goalkeeping from Kepa and genuine quality from Kevin de Bruyne made the difference in City’s favor. City made their big transition moment count, getting the 1-0 win and a 13-point lead in the Premier League table with KdB’s effort, meaning Chelsea failed to stake a claim as a title challenger.
“I think we lost on the individual performance and the individual performance in one situation today.
“In terms of attitude, commitment, defensive-wise, I am happy because we did not allow too many big changes, we kept them to a minimum of big chances, kept them to a minimum of dangerous deliveries. We were aware, active, always aggressive and compact in defending.
“[But] the individual quality of Kevin De Bruyne made the difference. We struggled offensively to show the type of quality to really hurt them and score the first goal and bring some doubts into their game.”
Tuchel also rightly criticized the team — not for missing chances, but for not creating enough in the first place.
He was keen to point out similar performances in the past led to Chelsea wins but he was frank about the fact that Chelsea failed to make their opportunities for quick transition attacks count. Many promising counter attacking opportunities went begging due to lack of ball security or good decision making by the forward players.
In order to create chances against the efficient high pressing of City, the quality and composure to make smart choices is very important. The forward contingent as a whole needs to put their hands up take this performance on the chin, as they let their teammates down repeatedly after the defence and midfield either played out of pressure or won the ball back near the halfway line.
“Listen, with the same performance we won games against them, with the same performance we can draw the game and you can, of course, also lose.
“We had not enough chances for the ball wins, the movements, the opportunities that we could have had. We could have had many more chances if we played with better timing and precision. It is simply like this.
“The performance in the first half in the opponents’ half, we had eight or nine transition chances and out of them, we didn’t have a touch in the box. That’s what I’m critical about.”
-Thomas Tuchel; Source: football.london
While the second half was better overall, Chelsea were still unable affect the score line. This loss puts them practically out of title contention.
The mandate for the last few seasons has been to hunt down and close the gap to City and Liverpool. While Chelsea need to ensure that they’re not drawn into a top-four dogfight by correcting course and turning their many many draws into wins, the mentality should still be to try and close that gap down rather than looking at teams around or below them. Hence why Tuchel was also adamant that Chelsea would only be focusing on themselves and the target of hunting down City and Liverpool.
In previous seasons, it was usually the defence which faltered. That is not the case this season. This time, our overall lack of quality and decisiveness from all the forward players has been the main story at play.
But hopefully today’s performance will serve as motivation for the forwards to finally rejuvenate the ailing form displayed by them. We will need them at their best to keep up the fight, no matter on which front we are still standing.