Coming in to Saturday’s FA Cup third round match at Stamford Bridge, Thomas Tuchel acknowledged Chelsea’s status as huge favorites but made it clear that he was taking the game very seriously, even if we were facing non-league opposition in Chesterfield FC. And sure enough, the starting lineup was chock-full of big names and first-team players, with the over plan being to put the game to bed early.
And that’s precisely what we did, scoring in the 6th, 18th, and 20th minutes, before adding a couple more on either side of half-time. Hakim Ziyech’s penalty in the 55th to make it 5-0 would’ve surely signaled the end of the game as a competitive occasion, if the three goals in the first 20 minutes hadn’t already done so.
The penalty did signal the end of Tuchel taking the game seriously however, which is probably the correct approach.
“I think most of the minutes until the 5-0 was absolutely OK and then we dropped a bit in all aspects of the game and it was a bit too open but job done. Everything good.
“We trust our players and we had to manage the load, to not overload the players with the next four games and the upcoming two weeks. We started well and decided the game early.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: BBC
Even if there were some players whom we might not have expected to play given the congested schedule and the intense games on it, Tuchel was happy to enough to rest a few and give a light runout to a few others — with the likes of Lukaku and Kovačić playing just a half, for example.
“After the 5-0, we made some changes in crucial positions and had some players who lacked a bit of rhythm and confidence in the position they had to play. In the last 15 minutes, I would have liked them to take more chances and be more clinical in finishing but OK. The job is done and we decided the match in the first half which is very good.”
“We have Wednesday, Saturday away and Tuesday then on Sunday. They are tough matches coming up. [So] it was simply the moment [to rest] and it was a different level of intensity to play in the Premier League or against a fifth division team with all due respect. It was good to share the minutes, manage some players to rest, and to be in the best shape possible for the upcoming games.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
The second leg in the League Cup semifinal against Spurs, then three league games in eight days — Man City (A), Brighton (A), Spurs (H) — are up next. Fair to stay they will be just a bit more intense and challenging than today’s bit of harmless fun.