Following our nearly heroic comeback yet ultimately disappoint elimination against eventual Champions League finalists Real Madrid, Chelsea’s results in the league have taken a rather concerning though perhaps not entirely unexpected turn for the worse.
After all, we were looking eminently comfortable in third, well out of the fight for the title but also in basically no danger of not finishing in the top four. It’s easy to lose a bit of focus and motivation then, despite our best efforts otherwise — especially as all we needed to do was pick up a few perfunctory points against inferior or struggling opposition.
Instead, with just five points from the five Premier League games since, we’re suddenly staring a top-four battle in the face, and doubly-so if Spurs were to beat Arsenal on Thursday.
We can still avert disaster of course, if we can get our act together.
“We look a bit drained, tired mentally. [We] have a lot of matches in our legs, in our bones. We feel it [but] still with being tired, distracted, maybe concerned, we need to reach a certain level which is possible. We can do better than we did in the last two matches. The positive thing is that I feel the will, the motivation.
“[Against Wolves] it was not a lack of motivation, it was the opposite. There were good signs. We trust the team, we trust our players and trust what brought us here. Now is the moment for me to stay calm, take it step by step and finish the season on a positive note.”
“[...] For tomorrow we need to be spot on from first to last minute.”
We remain well in control of our destiny, and two of our three games are against teams with nothing left to fight for (Leicester City and Watford, both at home). But first it’s Leeds United away, and they certainly have something to fight for: their Premier League lives.
Tuchel’s expecting nothing less than sharpened claws, sharp elbows, and ridiculous effort and determination — from them at the very least.
“Not sure if anybody is comfortable tomorrow as we expect a pretty tough match and crowd. [They are] a fast team, a hard-working team, a talented team individually. This is what we wait for. This is a match for them, do or die, like a cup match for them. The atmosphere will be like this.
“[It] will be a big fight. The atmosphere and the surrounding will tell you instantly what is going on and we will feel it straight away. We need to step up.”
Tuchel brought the squad in on Sunday for what would’ve normally been a rest day, and that combined with the Marcos Alonso “bust-up” rumors (which Tuchel dismissed with “things are solved; it happens”) has led to some lovely “turmoil” headlines in the tabloids — haven’t seen those for a while!
But it sounds like it was far from a standard training session, more of a team-building exercise to talk and hug things out, and maybe watch the U23s come back against Spurs to avoid relegation from the PL2.
“We planned a free day but after the disappointment — and it was not even to punish them — it was normally a free day and maybe some felt it was a punishment. It wasn’t. It was not the moment for a free day, it is better to be together and talk about it than to go and everybody has his own opinion, own truth. You have more risk to be in fragments than being here.
“We did very light training, had a run together, and discussed things, how to approach the next days. We brought everybody together to have the chance to be together. A lot of players supported the Under-23s on the other pitch which was very nice. That’s what we are. Very supportive, open-minded group of players. That’s what it felt like on Sunday.
“That’s what the Sunday morning was for, not to punish them or do a video session and show the mistakes or behaviour we could have done better. It was just to be together and not in different groups away from each other on a free day. That’s why we put everybody in.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
Together as one.