For 77 minutes, Chelsea controlled the outcome of the football match. Arsenal had accepted their fate. We were in cruise control.
We had scored twice, were absolutely unbothered at the back, and let several amazing chances to finish off the game go begging. A mistake by William Saliba (as the handball rules are written currently) gave us a penalty. Cole Palmer made no mistake. A mistake by David Raya, cheating off his line in anticipation of a cross, turned Mykhailo Mudryk’s mistakenly hit ball into goal. Our winger was probably due that bit of luck. Another, bigger mistake by David Raya went unpunished when Palmer made a poor choice in trying to round him instead of just shooting. Nicolas Jackson made the same mistake not long after.
And then, the balance of mistakes suddenly switched. And in the final 13 minutes (plus however long the rather uneventful stoppage time lasted), it all went to pot.
That’s football for ya. It’s not just about playing well. It’s also about not making mistakes. Perhaps even more so. And it’s about taking advantage of your opposition’s mistakes. Whoever can do that better will likely emerge as the winners.
There were no winners on Saturday at Stamford Bridge, just some harsh lessons, especially for our boys in Blue. Even Positive Pochettino might let these ones sink in for a minute or two, before putting that warm arm around the players’ shoulders and get them back up for next weekend.
“Football is about mistakes. If you want to score, the opponent made a mistake. I think 90% of goals are because the opponent made a mistake when you score. Football is about mistakes.”
Another way to put that is that football is about decision-making. Make good decisions on and off the ball, and you will likely avoid the mistakes that change the game.
“Of course, mistakes can happen in football. We make mistakes, a lot of mistakes and when the players are on the pitch they are allowed to. I think we give the possibility to make a mistake of course.”
“[...] I think only we can criticise a little to read the situation better, the tempo, the timing. 77 minutes, sometimes take some risk. Okay, we can, because it’s our philosophy but maybe have better decisions. Maybe we can criticise a little bit this situation. [...] it’s not to blame someone, it’s only that in these type of situations you may need to be better.”
And this is the part that will only happen with time, with practice, with patience, with belief, with confidence. We were there for 77 minutes. We need to be there for 90 minutes. And then for every 90 minutes.
“Let’s see what is going to arrive with time, all the winning teams always manage and drive the games where you want and read situations when you need to be calm, when to play, when to take risks. These things will arrive with time. We are still a really young team and we know each other and still not all of the squad are ready to compete for their place.
“We are in good momentum, we need to keep this momentum after three victories before the international break. I think we need to keep going, we really believe we can do something good in the future.”
“In the end [we’re] disappointed [...] because we dropped two points. [...] At the same time, I am so happy because we were very competitive, with all the circumstances we need to feel about the performance and how we played.”
-Mauricio Pochettino; source: Football.London
Back to work.